Tony Stewart

Local motor notes: Stockton 99 Dirt Track opener to feature NASCAR's Stewart

Published: Friday, Mar. 8, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Saturday, Mar. 9, 2013 - 5:12 pm

If watching sprint car legend Steve Kinser and the other World of Outlaws drivers roar on the dirt at 120 mph isn't enough to rev you up, NASCAR star Tony Stewart returns to his racing roots for the grand opening of Stockton 99 Dirt Track on March 22.

Tony Noceti, owner of the NASCAR-sanctioned quarter-mile asphalt Stockton 99 Speedway, has turned the infield of the San Joaquin Fairgrounds horse racing track into a half-mile dirt oval with 15-degree banking in the corners. It has drivers salivating over the speeds that can be reached.

"We held our first test sessions last week and the guys were averaging 116 miles per hour," Noceti said. "(Stockton) driver Brad Furr ran five straight laps in his 410 (cubic inch) sprint car and never lifted off the gas pedal. That's how fast and how hooked up his car was."

Stewart got his start racing on dirt. He owns the famed Eldora Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in Rossburg, Ohio, and he funds several sprint car teams. When he heard about the construction of the new track, he figured it would be an easy trip to Stockton in his private jet since NASCAR is in Fontana that weekend.

"He actually contacted us and wanted to race against the World of Outlaws," said Noceti, who will pay Stewart an appearance fee. "Ticket sales were already strong because of the Outlaws, and it's our grand opening. But when we announced that Stewart would race, too, well, sales went through the roof."

Noceti said tickets still are available, but he expects a sellout by race day. Tickets can be purchased at dirtcar.ticketforce.com.

The dirt track will have a limited schedule with some King of the West dates and open races. For more information, go to stockton99.com.

Stockton 99 Speedway also will have its usual schedule on that Friday night, Noceti said.

McAnally teams strong in Phoenix

All four Bill McAnally Racing teams at the Phoenix International Raceway last weekend for the Talking Stick Resort 60 finished in the top 11, led by Sergio Pena's fifth place.

BMR lead driver Eric Holmes is reducing his schedule for the 2013 K&N Pro Series West season, citing business and family responsibilities, team owner Bill McAnally said.

"Eric will share time with Brandon McReynolds in the No. 20 Napa Auto Parts car, and I've signed Michael Waltrip to drive two races this season," McAnally said.

McAnally also signed Pena, a rising star. Pena, 19, and McReynolds, 21, give McAnally his youngest team ever. McReynolds finished ninth in Phoenix.

"They both have great potential," McAnally said. "And they're both ready for this season."

The other two drivers for BMR in Phoenix were Canadians D.J. Kennington (seventh) and Jamie Krzysik (11th).

Only Pena and McReynolds will be entered on a regular basis during the K&N Pro Series season, McAnally said. McReynolds is the son of former NASCAR champion crew chief and current TV commentator Larry McReynolds.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Mark Billingsley



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