Perhaps the only thing hotter than this week’s weather forecast is Eric “Bubba” Nascimento Jr., of Manteca, who claimed his third consecutive Stockton Late Model victory at the 99 Speedway on Saturday night, Aug. 15.
Despite the oppressive heat, which saw temperatures soaring well into triple digits, an impressive field of 17 late models filled the pits in preparation for the evening’s 50-lap feature.
A PG&E rolling blackout complicated the proceedings by knocking out the track’s scoring and timing system and even more important the on track caution lights before the main events.
As a result, officials resorted to the ‘old school’ method of scoring by hand and track promoter Tony Noceti set up outside of the turn #3 wall with a spare set of flags to assist primary flagman Mark Vincelet in alerting drivers when the track was under green, yellow or red conditions.
Ethan Nascimento, Eric’s 13-year-old cousin, led the field to the opening green flag, but Eric quickly moved to the front to battle Ty Carlson, of Stockton, for the lead.
Carlson was able to fend Nascimento off for a couple of laps before succumbing to his assault on lap 12. Once out front Nascimento was never seriously challenged as he cruised to his fifth overall win this season.
Second generation driver Cody Potts, of Stockton, continues to show he is the real deal with a strong second place finish, Carlson held on to take third while Escalon’s Sam Solari and Lodi’s Arron Shankel rounded out the top five.
Joe Flowers of Manteca, who saw his five race winning streak snapped two weeks ago, started a new saw streak by easily winning the 25-lap, B-4 main over Stockton’s Jeff Harris.
Stockton rookie Rick Hall, who defeated Flowers for the first win of his career two weeks ago, saw his bid for a second win come to an abrupt end when he smacked hard into Stockton’s Ethan Rumsey, who had spun out on the front straight, causing a lengthy red flag stoppage midway through the race.
Jeanna Ramos, of Lodi, bulleted by early leader Justin Scantlen of Valley Springs in turn #3 of lap 10 in the 20-lap Bomber feature and never looked back as she posted her second consecutive victory. Scantlen held on for second place and Mikala Stearns, of Linden, rounded out the podium.
Racing is scheduled to resume at the 99 Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 22, with the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, B-4 Cylinders and Mini Cups on the bill.
The 104th Indy 500 for the NTT IndyCar Series will finally take place on Sunday, Aug. 23, unfortunately without the regular 300,000 plus fans that normally pack the 2 ½-mile, rectangular oval for ‘the Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ in attendance.
Marco Andretti, of Nazareth, PA, leads the 33 car field after posting a blistering 231.068 mph, four-lap qualifying run this weekend.
A lap at 230 plus mph at Indy means that a car reaches speeds of 240 mph on the two 5/8-mile-long main straightaways and never dips below 225 mph while driving through the four quarter-mile-long corners. A speed of 230 mph equates to travelling more than 112 yards per second.
Since Mario Andretti won the 1969 Indianapolis 500 for Andy Granatelli Racing, the Andretti family – which includes Mario’s sons Michael and Jeff, nephew John and grandson Marco – has endured nothing but heartbreaking mechanical failures, near misses, savage wrecks and frustration in 73 total starts and their plight at the Indy has been labeled the “Andretti Curse.” I look for Marco Andretti, 33, to break that 50-year curse and savor a gulp of cold milk on the victory stand at Indy after Sunday’s race.
The NBC broadcast of prerace activities begins at 10 a.m. Sunday and Indy 500 race coverage is scheduled to follow at 11:30 a.m.