TRACY, California — Points leader Jason Gilbert and 2007 NASCAR California State champion Mark Holeman of Los Altos shared the spotlight in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Western Late Models at Altamont Raceway Park on Saturday.
“The car was great and we’ve been struggling,” Holeman said. “I can’t thank the guys enough for all the work they put in to make the car do what it just did.”
Saturday’s activities also included testing for the prestigious Altamont Fall Classic, coming September 13. The event will feature the NASCAR Camping World Series West in the “Western State Steel & Stair 200” and the USAC Sprint & Midget Challenge. This will mark the first time in history that both USAC and the NASCAR West Series will share a twin bill.
13 NASCAR West Series teams tested, including local favorites 2006 champ Eric Holmes of Escalon, the points leader, and 2007 champ Mike David of Modesto. Other drivers that tested included points contenders Moses Smith of Arizona, Jason Bowles of Ontario, and Austin Cameron. Jamie Dick, Paulie Harraka, Rod Kneeland, Paul Pedroncelli, 2007 Altamont champ Ryan Philpott, Todd Souza, Ross Strmiska, and Auggie Vidovich also practiced.
USAC testing included Daniel Bedford, Western Sprints points leader Tanner Swanson of Kingsburg, multi-time USAC champ Tony Hunt of Lincoln, and Fresno’s Tim Skoglund, a Ford Focus Series standout.
Gilbert found victory lane in the first 50 lap Late Model feature after initial race winner and Tracy High graduate Justin Philpott was disqualified. Holeman put on a stunning performance in a largely green flag race to win the second 50. The win for Holeman marked his first career victory at the fastest half-mile in the west.
Philpott led the field to green, with action slowed on lap 12 for a huge oil down from Ryan Thomason of Castro Valley.
On the restart, Philpott engaged in a battle with Doff Cooksey of Brentwood, with Gilbert, Orangevale’s Gary Glenn, and Holeman in tow.
The top-five moved out to a considerable lead when the caution flew at the race’s halfway mark.
As the field came to the green, Cooksey suddenly dropped out with a water pump problem, giving Gilbert a look at Philpott.
Meanwhile, Mike David was on the charge up to fifth place. David and fellow Modesto resident Kyle Gottula raced hard for fifth to the finish.
Philpott won over Gilbert in a wire-to-wire battle over the final 25 laps. In post race inspection, however, Philpott was discovered to have modified a-arms. The rules state they must be stock, so Philpott was disqualified for the evening.
The top-five at the adjusted finish were: Gilbert, Glenn, Holeman, David, and Gottula.
Returning Glen Cook of Fremont was the early race leader in the second 50 lap race, flexing his muscle in his newly rebuilt ride.
The yellow flag was displayed on lap seven, for a spinning Brian Koski of Pleasanton.
Rookie of the year points leader Greg Hock of Ione held down second spot on the restart, while Holeman began to make his moves.
Holeman passed Hock on lap 18, and seven laps later assumed the lead.
Holeman and Hock maintained a comfortable advantage over Gilbert, until Gottula came knocking.
Twice the hard charger of the event, Gottula went by Hock but at that point was nearly three seconds behind Holeman.
Holeman cruised to a solid victory, his first career win at Altamont. The top-five were Holeman, Gottula, Hock, Gilbert, and Cook.
“This car actually gets better on the long runs so to get out and lead early was kind of surprising,” Holeman said.
The Good Doctor David Goodwill made a big statement, winning again in the NCMA Limited Sprints by a devastating margin.
Goodwill led by 4.1 seconds at the line over Manteca’s Pat Ariaz in the 25-lap feature. Goodwill, a former dirt sprint car star, is making a name on the asphalt as well.
Rounding out the top-five were Rob Hammond of Morgan Hill, Jeff Burrows of Manteca, and Burt Siverling.
“Once we got in clear traffic we just set sail,” Goodwill said. “The car was just operating perfect tonight.”
Future Champions Development Series took the half-mile with 15 year-old Colby Potts taking the win over Penryn’s Tyler Thomas.
The drivers were competing on the half-mile for the first time in 2008, an incredibly rare opportunity for drivers of their age.
Speeds reached close to 120 miles per hour for the drivers in the 400 hp cars.
Saturday, Altamont Raceway Park hosts the third and final round of the Tri-Holiday Classic Series, with the Flashco SRL Southwest Tour 100 and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (w/ Westcar stars) 100.
Action will also include the Future Champions Development Series, American Limited Stock Cars, and Formula-4s.
For ticket and event information, log onto the track website.
Altamont Raceway Park is located just west of Tracy at the merger of Highways 205 and 580.