XGT’s Rodgers wins at Sonoma in first career start; Pickett wins TA, Wood TA2

Four unique classes were on display at the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Western Championship race at Sonoma Raceway, with three different classes occupying the overall race podium. Will Rodgers in XGT, Greg Pickett in TA and Jack Wood in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series won the Motul pole awards in their respective classes yesterday and went on to finish 1-2-3, each taking the victory in the first event of the Golden Gate Challenge. With more points up for grabs due to field size, Wood currently leads the Challenge, which will conclude next weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Notes of Interest
• This was Will Rodgers’ first Trans Am Series start and he earned both the pole and the victory.
• Greg Pickett has now won six Western Championship events at Sonoma Raceway.
• Pickett also has three National Championship victories at the track (1978 and twice in 1984).
• This was 23-year-old Jack Wood’s first Trans Am win in his eighth-career start in the series.
• Wood is from nearby Loomis, California and considers Sonoma to be his home track.
• JC Meynet has taken the GT class win in both Western Championship races in 2023.

Jack Wood in the No. 8 SLR-M1 Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro led the record-breaking field of Western Championship Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series competitors to green, starting third overall. Wood moved into second when Greg Pickett was spun on the start, and held onto the position until lap 15, when Pickett worked his way up through the field to retake the runner-up spot. Wood maintained first in class from start to finish, winning in TA2 and finishing third overall.


While Wood’s race was smooth sailing, the same could not be said for those behind him. Ken Sutherland in the No. 68 Kallberg Racing Camaro and Brody Goble in the No. 69 Brown Bros. Ford/Cortex Performance Mustang battled for second while Barry Boes in the No. 32 Accio Data Ford Mustang and Brad McAllister in the No. 24 Straumann and Zimbus Mustang hotly contested the fourth position. Boes held it early on, but the pair was quickly joined by Roy Fulmer IV in the No. 86 Fulmer’s Auto Body/CaulkLok Camaro, who started the race dead last due to a tech penalty.

Fulmer first made the pass on McAllister for fifth on lap 13, then overtook Boes two laps later. On Lap 21, he made his way around Goble, then made an impressive pass on Sutherland to take second in class. A long full-course yellow bunched up the field on lap 32, and when the race went green on lap 36, competitors knew that the race would be shortened to finish at the 75-minute mark. Unfortunately, Fulmer experienced an issue on the restart and stopped briefly on the track. Sutherland, Goble, Michael LaPaglia in the No. 21 Papini’s Garage/F.A.S.T. Auto Mustang, McAllister and Boes all passed Fulmer, and fought until the checkered flag waved on lap 38. Sutherland was second, Goble was third. McAllister took fourth in class, and Boes rounded out the top five in TA2. LaPaglia finished sixth and Fulmer was ultimately seventh in class and 10th overall.

“Today was a good day,” said Wood. “Obviously our car had a lot of speed, and from the start of it I think we had control of the race. It was a long race for me to be up front the whole time and try to stay mentally focused, but I was just saving tires and trying to learn as much as I could when passing lapped traffic. The last restart definitely had me worried for a little bit, but luckily, we had enough left in the car at the end of the race to finish it off. A big thank you to the Lagasse family. About two-and-a-half years ago I started racing road courses with them, and I learned everything from Scott Jr. and Scott Sr., who have really helped me out quite a bit on this road course stuff. I’m proud to get my first win and I’m so glad to have it be at my home track.”

Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series Top Five:
1. Jack Wood, No. 8 SLR-M1 Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro
2. Ken Sutherland, No. 68 Kallberg Racing Chevrolet Camaro
3. Brody Goble, No. 69 Brown Bros. Ford/Cortex Performance Ford Mustang
4. Brad McAllister, No. 24 Straumann and Zimbis Ford Mustang
5. Barry Boes, No. 32 BCR/Accio Data Ford Mustang

Will Rodgers in the No. 42 Central Welding Supply Chevrolet Camaro put down a blazing lap in qualifying, earning the overall pole in yesterday’s qualifying session. The view never changed for Rodgers, who held the lead from green to checkers. His team owner, 2022 SGT Western Championship title holder Chris Evans, started 17th and fought his way into the top 10 by the end of the race, finishing ninth.

“First off, I really have to thank Chris Evans, Jeff Jefferson and all the guys,” said Rodgers. “They’ve done a great job building these XGT cars, and they’re a lot of fun. These cars are full of 850 horsepower, and our car hauled the mail. If anyone is interested in checking out one of those things, I definitely suggest it. I’m so happy to be out here to help develop the car and get it to this place where it can be competitive. We proved that it can win overall.”

XGT Results:
1. Will Rodgers, No. 42 Central Welding Supply Chevrolet Camaro
2. Chris Evans, No. 92 Central Welding Supply Ford Mustang

Greg Pickett in the No. 6 GYM WEED/Pickett Racing Ford Mustang started first in class and second overall, but before the end of the first lap, he found himself in last place. On the initial start, the field bunched up and another competitor made contact with Pickett, pushing him into another car and turning him around. Now at the very back of the field, Pickett’s consistently fast laps allowed him to fight his way back through the pack. By lap nine, he had entered the top 10, and by lap 15, he had driven all the way back up to second place. He held his position for the remainder of the race, earning the TA class victory.

“We decided to do this race two days ago, and my guys on the team busted their butts to get our car out here; they did a fabulous job,” said Pickett. “After the green flag, we bunched up and someone got into me real hard, and then he drove me into someone else in the front. We both got banged up a little bit, but we got it straightened out. Thanks to all the competitors. What a nice crowd. Thank you so much to Sonoma, the Trans Am Series, John Clagett and the whole team. I couldn’t be more proud of some of the running I’ve been able to do the last couple of years. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to duplicate this again, but boy, I sure liked it today. And you know whose idea this was to come out and race? Believe it or not, it was my wife Penny’s idea. She’s an all-star.”

TA Results:
1. Greg Pickett, No. 6 GYM WEED/Pickett Racing Ford Mustang
2. Steve Goldman, No. 13 LIG Racing Chevrolet Corvette

JC Meynet was the top GT qualifier in his No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Corvette, and with his only GT competitor knocked out of the race early with an engine problem, Meynet focused on racing cleanly and battling the racetrack. His win today was his second of the 2023 season, having earned the victory in the Thunderhill season opener last month.

“I want to say thanks to Trans Am, the officials, the fans, and my crew,” said Meynet. “I appreciate this beautiful day and that we’re racing; what a wonderful world this is. My race went great. Not a lot of guys in my class, so I was just going for the overall. I kept it in control and stayed out of the way of the fast guys, they came around me a few times. There was some attrition, I had to manage some temperatures, but I just clicked off consistent lap times and it worked out. This is my second win so far this year, not a bad way to start the Trans Am season.”

GT Results:
1. JC Meynet, No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Chevrolet Corvette
2. Kevin Michaels, No. 98 Killer Shrimp Restaurant Chevrolet Camaro

Full official race results can be found here.

The Western Championship returns to the track for the conclusion of the Golden Gate Challenge at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on May 5-7.

Story originally appeared on Racer