It appeared that Roy Fulmer IV had the car to beat at the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Western Championship season opener at Thunderhill Raceway Park, as he dominated the first 23 laps much like he had the year before when he claimed the victory in his series debut. However, a mechanical issue caused Fulmer to fade, allowing a steadfast Greg Tolson to take over the lead and claim his first-career victory.
When the green flag waved, Fulmer opened up an imposing gap in his No. 86 Fulmer’s Auto Body/Caulk Lok Camaro. Unfortunately, after dominating the first 23 laps, a fuel pump relay switch issue destroyed Fulmer’s impressive lead and cost him two laps, taking him out of contention for the win. Tolson, who started third in his No. 38 GT Auto Lounge Camaro and immediately took over the second position on the first lap, inherited the lead and defended it for the remainder of the race, opening up his own large gap before taking the checkered flag.
“First and foremost, I want to give all the glory and praise to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” said Tolson in Victory Lane. “It was a fun, slippery race with a lot of caution laps, I just wish we could have had more door-to-door racing. I spent a lot of time looking at that silver car (of Fulmer), but it was a good outcome. It was my first win, so I’ll take it. I’m definitely happy.”
It was Tolson’s first victory in the Trans Am Western Championship in his 12th start. He finished second to Fulmer in last year’s Thunderhill season opener.
JC Meynet, who was the top GT qualifier in his No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Corvette, was challenged early by Xuanqian Wang. With Wang in the lead, Meynet came to pit road during a rainy extended caution period for additional fuel, putting him last of the GT competitors at the back of the pack for the restart. After the field went green, Wang made contact with another car that spun on the restart, damaging his car’s splitter. Meanwhile, Meynet showed notable speed as he drove through the field and took over the lead on lap 21, holding onto it through the final laps and claiming the class victory.
“I had some moments out there. Anyone who says they didn’t is lying,” said Meynet on the podium. “I think the rain and the long caution played into our plan. I had to pit for fuel because we had a stock gas tank in the car and I wouldn’t have made it the whole way. The yellow gave us a window to pit and my pit crew did a great job refueling. They got me out there with enough time to get to the back of the pack for the restart. I just started picking people off and there was a little bit of attrition in front of me.
“I had to play it safe with the rain; it was really slippery in spots. Half the track was fast and a couple corners were just nightmarishly slippery, so figuring out where the track was fast and slow was the key.”
Steve Goldman, the only competitor in the TA class, drove up from a 13th-place starting position to finish ninth.
The Western Championship returns to the track April 27-30 at Sonoma Raceway, kicking off the back-to-back weekends of the Golden Gate Cup, which concludes at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on May 5-7.