Holmes Hungry For Win At NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown; Two-Time Champion Says Victory There Was Biggest Of His Career DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 22, 2009) -- A date marked above all others on the racing calendar for Eric Holmes is the NASCAR...
Holmes Hungry For Win At NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown; Two-Time Champion Says Victory There Was Biggest Of His Career
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 22, 2009) -- A date marked above all others on the racing calendar for Eric Holmes is the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) on Jan. 29-30.
The postseason event is often referred to as the 'Daytona 500 of short-track racing.'
"It's the biggest and best race of the year," said Holmes, a two-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Series West. "I look forward to it every year."
Holmes knows what it's like to taste victory at the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He won the Elite Division portion of the event in 2004, while competing in the former NASCAR Southwest Tour.
"That was the biggest win of my racing career," said the 35-year-old driver from Escalon, Calif. "Getting your name on that trophy and all the stuff that goes with it made it a pretty special night for me and my team and everybody involved in that. Every year I look forward to going back to regain that feeling that we had that night."
Although he has come close, Holmes has come up short in his attempts to win the Camping World race in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
"In 2006, I came within about half a turn of winning it," Holmes recalled of a fierce three-way challenge he was involved in. "Sean Caisse, Matt Kobyluck and I were battling right to the end."
Holmes ended up turned around on the final turn of the final lap, however, while Kobyluck beat Caisse to the finish line to score his first of two wins in the prestigious event.
Holmes thought he might also have a shot at the win a year ago, but a broken part took him out of contention.
"I think last year I had a good shot at winning it, too," he said. "We had worked really hard. We kind of struggled the last two seasons at Irwindale and we really hit on something last year and had a really fast car, with the limited amount of practice that we had.
"I felt that Brian Ickler and I, along with Trevor Bayne, had the cars to beat," Holmes said. "We were just kind of riding. We made some really good changes at the break. When we came back out, we broke a sway bar arm. It was really disappointing."
Meanwhile, there is some added incentive to go for the win this year, according to Holmes.
"Those East guys have been beating us up there," he said of the all-star event. "Definitely this year I want to get back in Victory Lane and get a West Coast victory for us."
The No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota that Holmes and his Bill McAnally Racing team plan to take to Irwindale is the same car they raced in last year's event.
"We'll take the same car, it's pretty much our workhorse car we've driven the last year and a half," Holmes said. "They've totally re-freshened it and are getting it all ready to go. I think we'll have a real good shot at winning it."
Beyond the bragging rights and large winner's purse, Holmes is also considering the idea of having his name on a second NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown trophy.
"It would be a special night," he said. "And another special trophy on my mantle would be really cool."
Holmes, who won NASCAR Camping World Series West championships in 2006 and 2008, is coming off a season in which he finished second in the point standings. He has nine career wins and 12 career poles in 49 series starts.
The seventh running of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, which brings together the top racers from across North America, will be highlighted by the 225-lap Camping World Series all-star race. Each race winner during the 2009 Camping World Series season is eligible for a protected starting spot, as are the 2009 champions from each of NASCAR's six regional touring series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion.
In addition to eligible 2009 race winners and series champions, the starting lineup will be determined through time trials, limited provisionals for Camping World Series regulars, and the last-chance "Open" race that provides drivers one final chance to make the grid.
The 2010 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown schedule also includes 100-lap Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model and 75-lap Late Model races. Both nights of racing will air live on SPEED.