Though it included his best-yet finish at Altamont Motorsports Park, Tracy’s Justin Philpott will remember Sunday afternoon for something completely different.
After his father — two-time Stockton 99 Speedway champion David — won the preliminary four-car trophy dash, Justin was called out onto the track to receive a “special award.”
While Philpott was distracted by an enormous trophy and a half-dozen bikini-clad presenters, a rogue racing fan jumped the fence and hopped into the 16-year-old’s No. 05 Chevrolet, slamming it into gear and roaring away.
The attempted larceny/joyride was cut short by track officials who blocked the car’s path with tow trucks — and Philpott’s older brother, who chased down the car, pulled the would-be thief from the car and brought him down on the track pavement hard — but it all turned out to be a prank.
The “rogue” fan was an actor, with the whole scene filmed as a commercial for Philpott’s sponsor.
“I heard my race car start up and slide away, so I turned around and started yelling and running after it,” he said. “No one knew what was going on — (the fans) thought some people were stealing the race car. You should have heard it.”
The performance had everyone going, but to the fans waving signs and wearing his T-shirts, Philpott’s third-place finish in the 50-lap main event was even better.
Pacific Grove’s Dave Byrd took the checkered flag for the third-straight race and his seventh win in 2006. Scott Shade took second, and Philpott worked his way up from a ninth-place start to take third. Tracy’s Brandon Trevethan finished the race in sixth.
“Halfway through the race, the car was feeling pretty good and we were going forward, catching people,” he said.
A surge on a lap-30 restart following one of the race’s three outstanding cautions put Philpott another two places ahead, and then a two-car crash — involving Stockton 99 points leader Pete Anderson, Jr. — put him into third for good.
The third-place finish came only hours after a sixth-place finish at Stockton 99 Saturday night, a race in which David took third.
“It was a very good weekend overall,” Philpott said. “I just wish my dad had finished (Sunday) — he had the car to beat Byrd.”
After a win in the trophy dash, a malfunction with the elder Philpott’s intake system caused his No. 50 car to overheat, and he dropped out of the race after lap 23. Cousin Ryan Philpott’s race didn’t go smoothly either, as the 23-year old pulled out after only 12 laps.
Mike Brooks’s No. 0 car won a caution-filled American Limited Stock Cars 30-lap race, and David Burchett took first in Mini Super-Trucks.
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