Jeff Holden Goes from Last to First to Win Race 1 at Utah, Extends Point Standings Lead

October 15, 2022

Jeff Holden Goes from Last to First to Win Race 1 at Utah, Extends Point Standings Lead

Sutherland Remains Close in Points Hunt with Third-Place Finish, Johnston Wins XGT, LaPaglia Wins SGT

TOOELE, Utah. (October 15, 2022) – The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Western Championship had a thrilling Race 1 at the Utah Motorsports Campus doubleheader, with TA2 points leader Jeff Holden driving his No. 11 RELAXandCBD.com/Dakota Lithium/Mid Valley Transmission Camaro from last place to earn his third win of the 2022 season. In addition to celebrating his hard-fought victory, Holden extended his points lead over Ken Sutherland and earned a solid starting position for tomorrow’s Race 2.

Brody Goble in the No. 69 Brown Bros. Ford Mustang led the field to green after earning the Motul Pole Award with a record-setting qualifying lap, starting the race side-by-side with Sutherland’s No. 68 Cascade Sotheby’s/Wyatt Fire Protection Camaro. Holden, who had been struggling with steering issues throughout the weekend and was set to start seventh, incurred a penalty before the race for being late to the mandatory driver meeting, resulting in a 21st-place starting position. Holden instantly began his march to the front when the green flag waved, capturing eight positions on lap one and cracking the top 10 by lap four. Meanwhile, Sutherland was scored as the leader ahead of Goble, but was black flagged for jumping the start and forced to serve a penalty, dropping him to 14th.

Goble recaptured the lead once Sutherland was penalized, maintaining it until lap 11 when he noticed an issue with the brake pedal and needed to visit pit road to assess. Ultimately he discovered that he lost a bleed screw and experienced a complete loss of brakes. Meanwhile, Holden broke into the top five, and had advanced into the second position by lap 12. XGT entry Chris Evans in the No. 92 Chris Evans Inc. Ford Mustang was now in the point position, but his lead was short-lived, as the air hose to his helmet disconnected and became lodged in an area that impacted his ability to shift. Forced to come to pit road, Evans dropped to 16th, and Holden inherited the lead on lap 14.

Holden never looked back, leading for the remainder of the race and gapping the field by more than five seconds by the time the checkered flag waved. With his win today, Holden now has a 13-point lead over second-place Sutherland. Roy Fulmer IV in the No. 186 Fulmer’s Auto Body/Nichols Construction Chevrolet finished second after running in the top five all day, and Sutherland overcame his early penalty to finish third. Bobby Hodges in the No. 04 Garage Row Racing Mustang finished fourth, followed by 14-year-old Parker DeLong in the No. 4 Parker DeLong Racing Mustang, who earned a fifth-place finish in his series debut.

“My guys were under the hood all weekend working on power steering problems, so these were my first real laps,” said Holden in Victory Lane. “I just felt like a caged bull all weekend, and as soon as they let me go, I was on a mission. The guys gave me a great car, and that’s all I can ask for. It was head down, no mistakes. I seem to do better under the higher pressure. We get help from M1 Racecars, and they make a fast racecar and help me immensely, making sure we have everything we need, so after that, it was all up to me. I’ve got a lot of people to thank: my dad, my brother, Chris and Steve. RELAXandCBD.com, Dakota Lithium, Mid Valley Transmission, Joe’s Racing; these guys all stick with me all year and we wouldn’t be here without them.”

Following Evans’ trouble, XGT competitor Howard Johnston in the No. 32 IWS Acquisition Group Mustang took the lead in the class, finishing ninth overall, ahead of Evans in 11th.

“This race was fantastic, I didn’t see [Evans] at all,” said Johnston with a laugh. “It was a great race. This is the first time ever I’ve been on a track that is brand new to me that felt so good. It’s the first time ever that I really loved a track the first time. This was a great race.”

Michael LaPaglia in the No. 31 Papini’s/Johnson Tuning/FAST Ford Mustang won the SGT class, finishing 15th overall.

“I had a good race; I made some good passes, learned a lot and got better as the race went on,” said LaPaglia following the race. “Of course, we always want some more competition here in the SGT class, but I had a race of my own with some of the TA2 cars: the No. 00, the No. 24, the No. 66. It was a fun time. We learned a lot and got some good data on the car to get ready for COTA. This track is super fun, it’s a really good facility. I’m happy to be here and happy to get this win under our belt, and we’ll be able to make some adjustments for tomorrow. All in all, it was a fun race.”

Race 2 will be contested on Sunday, October 16 at 10:30 a.m. MT/12:30 p.m. ET, and the field will be set by fastest lap times in today’s race.

Keep up with the event with live timing and scoring, which will be available at https://gotransam.com/livetiming.  

Full race results can be found here.

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