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On-track car theft promotional prank black flagged

TRACY, Calif. -- A man jumped into a NASCAR race car and tried to drive away before he was stopped by track officials, who didn't know he was an actor and the apparent heist was a prank for a commercial.

Justin Philpott, a 16-year-old NASCAR competitor, was taking
part in an awards ceremony at the Altamont Motorsports Park on
Sunday when the actor jumped a fence and hopped into his Chevrolet,
the Tracy Press reported Thursday.

"I heard my race car start up and slide away, so I turned around and started yelling and running after it," said Philpott, a third-generation racer. "No one knew what was going on."

The stunt was cut short when track officials blocked the car's path with tow trucks, the newspaper reported. Philpott's older brother, also a racer, chased down the car, pulled out the
unidentified man and tackled him to the ground. The incident was
caught on tape and widely circulated on the Internet.

The "thief" turned out to be an actor filming a scene for a commercial for one of Philpott's sponsors, TaxBrain.com. The Philpotts had not been told about the commercial beforehand, Justin
Philpott said.

A spokeswoman for Altamont's parent company, Riverside
Motorsports Park, said only a few track officials knew the prank
would take place.

A spokesman for TaxBrain.com did not return calls for comment.