Stockton 99 Speedway
Newcomer fitting in just fine
Record Staff Writer
Published Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Solari, #6, isn't worried about a learning curve in his first season as a NASCAR
Western Late Model Series driver. He's driving straight toward the checkered
He won Sunday's first WLM main event of the season at Altamont Motorsports Park in Tracy, his second divisional win in four races.
Solari's first victory was in a 50-lap feature at Stockton 99 Speedway on April 15. Solari also went 50 laps for the win at Altamont, holding off a challenge from veteran #21, Dave Byrd of Pacific Grove.
"We're having some good runs, and I can't tell you how happy we are about it," said Solari, a Linden native who graduated from Manteca High School and lives in Salida.
"It makes you feel good, because people have said that it's going to take a lot of time to get used to the new division, but we've got a good car and got off to a good start."
Solari, 33, started his racing career at Delta Speedway on the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, and he was driving Grand American Modified cars the past few years before getting into the late model prepared by Eric Holmes of Beebe Racing Enterprises.
"Sam is a good driver, and everyone is happy with how he's done so far," Holmes said. (left) "It was a great win at Altamont."
Solari has had immediate success in the WLM division, but he's still learning a few things. He had never run at the half-mile oval track, which had a $2 million facelift in the offseason, which included new road and figure-eight courses. Solari's toughest challenger was Byrd, who had passed Solari during a restart for the lead on his way to a win at Stockton 99 on April 29.
"Dave beat us the week before, and it bothered me a bit because I think he got to me mentally," Solari said. "He's been around for years, and I'm just starting in the class, and you get the idea in your mind that you are going to get smoked. But this time we didn't let it get to us."
Solari, (left, in pits) beat Byrd on a restart with four laps remaining to win at Altamont, but he won't be trying for his second consecutive win on Saturday. He had committed to serve on Holmes' pit crew during the Southwest Series race at Shasta Speedway in Anderson.
Hot laps at 99
Solari will not be at Stockton 99 for Saturday night's third round of the Hot Wood 1,000, but the points leader will be.
Ron Strmiska Jr. of Manteca won the first race of the series April 9 and is the current leader with 94 points. Pete Anderson Jr. of Stockton is second with 88, and he is followed by Eric Humphries of Chowchilla and Guy Guibor of Manteca with 84.
Byrd, Pete Hernandez of Chicago, Joey Stearns of Stockton and cousins Ryan and Justin Philpott of Tracy are scheduled to compete. Racing begins at 6.