Altamont Raceway Park Thursday summary

Championship battles part of the thrill of the Altamont Fall Classic Escalon's Holmes and Kingsburg's Swanson lead the way Tracy, Calif. -- Saturday's Altamont Fall Classic, with the historic first ever pairing of the NASCAR Camping World Series...

Championship battles part of the thrill of the Altamont Fall Classic
Escalon's Holmes and Kingsburg's Swanson lead the way

Tracy, Calif. -- Saturday's Altamont Fall Classic, with the historic first ever pairing of the NASCAR Camping World Series West and the USAC Western States Sprints, features two exciting championship battles with local drivers ahead of the pack.

Altamont Raceway Park, the fastest half-mile in the west, is the "home to history," hosting the season ending NASCAR West races for the 2006 and 2007 race seasons, and hosting a pivotal seven rounds of the 2008 USAC Western States Sprints season.

Saturday's NASCAR West Series event, the "Golden State Steel & Stair 200," is the penultimate round in the championship.

Escalon's Eric Holmes, the 2006 champion, leads the series by nine points over Ontario's Jason Bowles. Bowles led all 200 laps at the event at Irwindale Speedway in August, and Holmes leads the series with four wins.

"We haven't been conservative all year and we aren't going to start now," Holmes said in a recent interview. "My goal is to win the pole, lead laps and win the race. That is how we are going to win the championship."

17 year-old Tanner Swanson of Kingsburg is the points leader in the USAC Western States Sprints, over Chowchilla's Eric Humphries and Nick Rescino, Jr. of San Francisco. Swanson and the 750 horsepower Sprints will race in two heat races and a 50 lap feature in the "95.7 The Wolf USAC Challenge."

"Last year we had a lot of close races running later in the day," Swanson said. "(USAC) definitely will put on a good show and will compliment the west series well. It will be a good show for the fans with the variety of cars coming out to run."

Congressman Jerry Mcnertney will be the Grand Marshall of this important evening of racing, with fans, teams, and sponsors coming from all over the United States for the exciting action.

Over $140,000 in prize monies will be up for grabs, along with the opportunity to be apart of a history-making program.

Both fields will be stocked full of talent, with fans of the open-wheel sprint cars being treated to seeing three female racers and a bevy of young talent.

Open-wheeled racing has a storied history in northern California, with former tracks such as Baylands, San Jose, Oakland, and West Capitol blazing a trail for the modern day warriors. Northern California is now known as one of the top regions in the country for open-wheel talent.

Race fans have been viewing the products of open-wheel racing for years, with more than two dozen drivers in NASCAR's top-three series coming from open-wheels. Most notably on this list include Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, and Jeff Gordon.

Swanson hopes to be the next driver to blaze a trail into NASCAR.

"If you can at least put it in front of their noses and show them that you can do, maybe they'll give you a shot in one of their cars."

The NASCAR Camping World Series West has bred the careers of Kevin Harvick and Brendan Gaughan, most notably. Among the 33 entries for Saturday's 200 lap affair, are several young drivers with the talent and the resume necessary to move up the ranks.

Bowles hopes to follow in their paths, using the series as his launching pad to the national level of NASCAR.

Bowles scored an impressive rookie of the year title last year, and this year has visited victory lane three times.

"I think we've made quite an impact this year," Bowles said. "I think people are starting to take notice. We're running up front each and every week."

In 11 starts, Bowles has finished in the top-three six times. Holmes has finished in the top-two eight times to lead the standings over Bowles.

Not only will fans be treated to two great racing programs on Saturday evening, there will also be a flurry of activities to keep them busy throughout the park.

A bounce-house obstacle course, face painting, driver photograph & autograph opportunities, food vendors, display booths, and live music will keep fans busy.

Ron Pestana & The Pit Crew will perform their race-bred brand of rock n roll throughout the evening. The USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier Museum's traveling "Top Gun" jet cockpit will be on site for the fans to view.

An exact replica of Dale Earnhardt's NASCAR Cup Series car will allow fans to get an up close look at the type of car "The Intimidator" used to earn his seven championships.

Race fans are encouraged to come out early, with gates opening at noon with USAC Sprints practice already underway.

The 140 mile per hour Sprints will qualify at 2:30, with the NASCAR Camping World Series West to qualify at 3:00.

Racing begins with opening ceremonies and the "95.7 The Wolf USAC Challenge." The feature NASCAR Camping World Series West "Golden State Steel & Stair 200" will take the green flag under the lights at 7 p.m.

The 200 lap event will be split into two 100 lap segements, with teams utilizing the infield quarter-mile to set up a thrilling hot pit with live pit stops.

More information on this history making night of racing is available at

The official site for the Altamont Fall Classic features more information on both the NASCAR Camping World Series West and USAC Sprints as well as event schedules and ticket information.

Altamont Raceway Park is located just west of Tracy at the merger of Highways 205 and 580. An extensive remodeling project during the winter of 2005/06 has made the facility one of the most up-to-date on the West Coast.

For more information on this NASCAR- and USAC-sanctioned, multi-use facility, visit

-credit: arp

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Kasey Kahne , Brendan Gaughan , Eric Holmes , Jason Bowles , Tanner Swanson