WS: Kyle: Pre-event notes

Five Things To Watch: Holmes Quest For 3 Leads The List The haulers are packed with cars and gear as the teams of the NASCAR Camping World Series West head to Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas to get ready for the 2009 season opener ...

Five Things To Watch: Holmes Quest For 3 Leads The List

The haulers are packed with cars and gear as the teams of the NASCAR Camping World Series West head to Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas to get ready for the 2009 season opener Saturday.

As the green flag sets to drop on the 56th season of the West, here are five things to keep an eye on:

ERIC HOLMES
The Escalon, Calif., driver two-for-two, having captured the NASCAR Camping World Series West championship in the only two seasons he ran the full series schedule -- 2006 and 2008. He returns in 2009, hoping to score back-to-back titles and gain his third championship in four years. The 34-year-old second-generation driver enters his second season driving the No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing, a team that won three consecutive series championships in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Holmes and BMR hope to continue their strong performance of a year ago -- in which he won four races and captured the Coors Light Pole Award for the year by setting the fast time in five events. He also led nearly twice as many laps of competition as any other driver in 2008.

JASON BOWLES
After winning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, the Ontario, Calif., driver went toe-to-toe for the championship in the NASCAR Camping World Series West in 2008. Although he ultimately finished in the runner-up spot in the final standings -- 48 points out of first place -- Bowles matched champion Eric Holmes in many accomplishments for the year. They each scored four wins and each driver won five Coors Light Pole Awards. They also had an equal number of top-10 finishes, with 10 each.

Championship crew chief Bill Sedgwick joined with Bowles and the team of car owner Bob Bruncati at the season opener last year. Now with a full season together as a team, Bowles could become the one to beat in 2009.

MIKE DAVID
Following his championship season, Mike David experienced an up and down year in 2008. He scored a major victory early, piloting the No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Toyota to Victory Lane at Phoenix, and was battling for the top spot in the championship standings. But the Modesto, Calif., driver fell out of contention in the second half of the season, with a series of finishes outside of the top 10. David battled back to register a pair runner-up finishes in the final three races. He finished fourth in the points, with six top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Bolstered by that late-season momentum, look for the team of car owner Randy Lynch to have David back in contention for the 2009 season.

SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
Among those members of the freshman class of 2009 expected to compete for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, are several drivers who have already demonstrated their potential for success in the NASCAR Camping World Series.

Paulie Harraka, a participant in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, grabbed the Coors Light Pole and finished sixth in the season finale, one of three races he ran last year. Another member of the Drive for Diversity program, Jonathon Gomez, turned in top 10 finishes in both of the starts he made in the series in 2008. Blake Koch, meanwhile, captured some attention in qualifying fourth quickest in his only series appearance in the season finale.

WILD CARDS
Two drivers running limited schedules in 2008 surprised some of the regulars in the NASCAR Camping World Series West in capturing their first career win last year. Todd Souza won on the road course at Miller Motorsports Park, one of four events in which he raced, and Jason Fensler won at his home track of Altamont Raceway Park in his only start of the season. With some talented newcomers expected to run select events in the series, the potential is there for some surprise winners in 2009.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Paulie Harraka , Mike David , Eric Holmes , Todd Souza , Jonathon Gomez , Blake Koch