NORTH HIGHLANDS, California — RTD Motorsports and its new driver Jonathon Gomez raced into the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Saturday at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif. before having their day abruptly ended in a chain reaction crash.
“Our race was ended too soon,” Gomez said. “We were very fast and I was just running laps at my pace.”
Gomez, the 26 year-old Drive for Diversity candidate from Twin Falls, ID, will compete for Rookie of the Year in the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series West.
Gomez raced forward from 13th on the grid to finish fourth in the 50 lap Open qualifying race on Saturday, which put him 38th for the 250 lap All-Star.
“It took me about 20 laps to get comfortable,” Gomez said. “I just knew we had to get those spots to transfer. It felt good and gave me confidence heading into the 250.”
With SPEED TV cameras rolling, Gomez showed incredible speed for just his third career start in the Camping World Series cars.
He suffered slight nose damage when he was gathered up in a crash on lap eight. On the ensuing restart, Gomez dove to the bottom of the race track and began making three-wide maneuvers.
By lap 47, Gomez had passed 16 cars and was in 22nd position. While the young racer knocked on the top-20 early in the race, many in the field were racing as if it was the end of the race.
Gomez drove off the race track under his own power but could not continue.
“The car was working really good,” Gomez said. “I was hoping to get into the top-15 by lap 100 but it unfortunately didn’t work out that way.”
The crash ended an up-and-down weekend, as the team had sprung into action to repair Gomez’ car after a late night crash in Friday practice. Most practice sessions were shelved throughout the weekend due to wet weather.
“I was really impressed with the crew,” Gomez said. “I never wanted to have to watch them fix the car, but it handled just as good the next day. It was incredible.”
By Saturday morning, the car looked almost as good as new.
After a short five lap practice session on Saturday afternoon, Gomez was thrust into qualifying. His qualifying time was just shy of qualifying for the 250 which forced him into the qualifying race.
Gomez and the RTD Motorsports team will now turn their attention to the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series West opener at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, TX.
The event on March 14 is the first of 13 points races slated for the season.
“I’m really excited,” Gomez said. “Once the season starts, everyone races smarter. I’m confident in the team and we have really fast cars.”
Gomez is also looking forward to attacking the 3/8ths mile oval in eastern Texas because it closely resembles his home track, Magic Valley Speedway.
“I think qualifying should go good and that will help us get ahead for the whole weekend,” Gomez said.
Race fans can learn more about RTD Motorsports at www.rtdmotorsportsinc.com