Holmes Peaks at Right Time with Victory at Colorado National DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (August 20, 2006) Eric Holmes from Escalon, Calif. continued his pursuit of his first NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series championship by winning...
Holmes Peaks at Right Time with Victory at Colorado National
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (August 20, 2006) Eric Holmes from Escalon, Calif. continued his pursuit of his first NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series championship by winning the United Power/Touchstone Energy "150" at Colorado National Speedway Saturday night. Holmes edged perennial Midwest Series favorite Tim Schendel by a mere .162 seconds to claim the victory and to close within eleven points of Southwest Series point leader Rip Michels. Nine-time Midwest Series champion Steve Carlson finished third after leading 45 laps with Michels and David Mayhew rounding out he top five finishers.
The race combined the top drivers from both the Southwest and Midwest Series for the second time this season with 38 drivers on hand to battle for 32-starting positions. Tim Schendel from Sparta, Wisc. toured the wide and fast 3/8-mile paved oval in 16.177 seconds/82.339 mph to lead all drivers in qualifying for the 150-lap event. Holmes clocked in second followed by Thomas Martin, Carlson, and Michels rounding out the top five qualifiers.
With only 32-starting spots available, that left Dave Finley, Stephan Sadler, Bob Lyon, Roger Avants, Cody Pruitt, Darren Bucklen, Bobby Latham, Danny Mientka, Brandon Loverock, and Trevor Morrical to compete in a 20-lap non-qualifiers race. The top six cars would transfer to the feature event with four drivers ending their night early.
Finley, Lyon, Avants, Bucklen, Sadler, and Pruitt transferred from the qualifying race lining up at the rear of the starting grid. Schendel drew a six-car invert putting Southwest Series Sunoco rookie leader David Mayhew on the pole alongside Rip Michels who was coming of his first Southwest Series victory last weekend at Irwindale (CA) Speedway.
Michels grabbed the early lead as the field sorted itself out. The first of four cautions came out for Jim Sikes who looped his Chevrolet exiting turn two. No contact was made and Sikes fell in at the rear of the field. Michels took command on the lap restart but Steve Carlson had other ideas.
Carlson, coming off a disappointing outing last week at Nashville where he lost a motor, looked to get a little racing luck back on his side. Carlson worked underneath Michels as the duo entered turn one. Carlson took the point and set out to prove why his is a nine-time champion.
Carlson's pace strung out the field and he started lapping cars by lap 32. Schendel past Michels the next lap and closed in on his series rival. By the time the race reached the one-third mark at lap 50, Carlson, Schendel and Holmes were negotiating traffic at every turn, with several lapped cars separating each of them.
Thomas Martin, coming off his top five run at Irwindale had moved into the fourth position with Mayhew holding on to fifth followed by Chris Muhler, Michels, Dan Fredrickson, Josh Vadnais, and Jim Pettit II.
Schendel made his move to the front passing Carlson as the pair entered turn three. Schendel then set to distance himself from his pursuers using lapped traffic to perfection. However, that plan was foiled as Holmes was equally impressive dispatching of the slower cars.
Holmes caught Schendel by lap 64 and got a great run out of turn two and set sail. Schendel then locked onto Holmes as if tried to this bumper. At the halfway point of the race Holmes maintained control of the pace with Schendel holding on to second place. Carlson dropped back a few cars lengths in third with Muhler and Mayhew rounding out the top five in the running order.
Michels maintained the sixth position followed Fredrickson, Vadnais, Pettit, and Darren Crocker rounding out the top ten. Muhler saw his spectacular run go away on lap 76 when he slapped the turn three wall ending his night in the garage area and bringing out the second caution of the race.
The race restarted on lap 83 with Holmes controlling the front of the field, but the best battle on the track was for the 12th position. Darren Crocker and Eddy McKean waged a spirited battle for nearly 75 laps dicing back and forth and side-by-side.
McKean would finally get around Crocker on 130 and making his way into the top ten. Midwest Series point leader Dan Fredrickson received the black flag for causing the third caution after he assisted in moving a lapped car causing several cars to get together including Finley, Avants, Martin, Clark, and Eric Richardson. Fredrickson served a drive through penalty while Richardson saw his night end after extensive front end damage to his Ford.
The final caution dropped on lap 136 when David Finney slapped the turn two wall and came to rest in the center of the track. Finney ended his night on the hook and a 28th place finish.
The final caution set up a five lap dash to the finish with only lead lap cars up front. Holmes held the point but Schendel gave several shots over the closing laps to no avail and Holmes crossed the finish line first edging Schendel for the victory. Carlson maintained the third spot with Michels and Mayhew rounding out the top five finishers. Vadnais, Pettit, McKean, Crocker, and Scotty Backman finished sixth through tenth.
An excited Holmes showed a lot of emotion after claiming the win. "This is an awesome place to race," Holmes said. "Tim drove a great race and it was a lot of fun out there tonight. My team prepared an excellent car and to win in Colorado in front of all these great fans is certainly a career highlight."
Holmes had a bit of adversity early in the week when his hauler broke down in Utah causing his car not to arrive until Friday. "The truck broke down and we did not get as much time to practice but it did not matter," Holmes continued. "This win means a lot heading into Altamont where we have had success in the past and where we are due."
With his second place performance Schendel will take over the Midwest Series point standings by 30-points over Fredrickson. "I sure wanted to win here at Colorado," Schendel said." Eric had a real fast car at the end at the end. He drove a great race and I love running with the Southwest guys. We are real happy with a solid performance and going into the final races of the year we are where we need to be,"
Carlson was happy with third considering his previous week. "After Nashville it took us completely out of the points," Carlson said. "This place is a lot of fun to race and with all these great drivers in the show it is no easy feat to win."
David Mayhew scored his first top five performance of the season and all but cemented the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year title with a fifth place finish. When asked what he learned out on the track, Mayhew pointed to one thing. "You have to go fast every lap and hold nothing back," Mayhew said. "I have learned a lot this year. We continue to focus on qualifying and that has helped us a bunch but right at the start I just was not on the wheel like I should have been. Rip got by me and it took a few laps to find an opening to drop into."
The fifth place finish was his fourth top ten finish of the season and he has completed 854 of 866 laps contested so far this season. "I certainly would like to win a race before its over, but running like we have this year is a big victory for our team and having the opportunity to go to the Showdown is going to make for a great season."
The win moved Holmes to within just eleven points of Michels heading into the final event at Altamont Motorsports Park Saturday, September 23. McKean holds onto third just 34 points behind Holmes. Kanke still rests in fourth but dropped a few points after a14th place finish in the race. Mayhew maintains his hold on the fifth position.
Greg Voigt, Jim Pettit II, Thomas Martin, Kevin Clark, and Kevin Vernon are currently sixth through tenth in the standings. Stephan Sadler and Eric Richardson are within just 29 points of tenth place and that all important invitation to the fourth annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in October.
The race took just 55 minutes and 10 seconds to complete at an average speed of 60.363 mph. The action was slowed four times for 30-laps of caution. There were three lead changes involving four drivers with Eric Holmes leading the most laps (86). 29 of 32 cars were running at the conclusion of the event.
Tim Schendel received the $450 Bud Pole Award, with fellow Midwest Series star Steve Carlson collecting the $300 Featherlite Award for improving the most positions from the previous event (13). Eddy McKean earned the $750 PowerAde Award for improving the most positions in the race (14), while David Mayhew was the top finishing Sunoco rookie competitor.