The Stockton 99 Speedway roared back to action on Saturday, June 2 with a special “Kids Night” program that featured the Stockton Late Models in a 40-lap main.
Manteca’s Ross Strmiska, the winner of the previous race two weekends ago, once again led the 15-car field to the green flag for the start of the race. The third generation driver methodically began pulling away from the rest of the pack, looking almost invincible, until a back marker spun out on lap 15 causing a yellow-caution.
Strmiska grabbed the lead on the restart, but Escalon’s Sam Solari made an aggressive charge up the inside causing Strmiska to spin in front of the pack. The ensuing melee resulted in major damage to five other cars that were unable to avoid the wreck and necessitated a long red flag stoppage to clean up the track.
When the race finally resumed Coulterville’s Chris Lyon and Strmiska’s teammate Christian Roche, of Escalon, found themselves on the front row while Strmiska and Solari, at the invite of track officials for causing the mess, started in the rear.
Roche was able to take the lead despite having most of the right side of his car torn off, while Strmiska gamely worked his way back through the field. Strmiska moved into second on lap 22 and spent the remainder of the race probing for a way to get by his stablemate. Despite pulling even with Roche on multiple occasions, Strmiska was never able to sustain enough momentum to complete a pass as Roche chalked up his first career victory.
“This has been an amazing journey with a lot of ups and downs and this feels so good to finally sit on top of the box especially having my teammate beside me,” exclaimed the 18-year-old winning driver Roche. “My head was going all over the place during those final laps, but my spotter helped me think clear and brought me home.”
Courtesy of Dale Bowsowski, Escalon Times
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