Leicester: Holbrook review

LEICESTER, NY - Chris Holbrook, defending Sunoco Pro Stock Champion, is still toughing his way through a season that nobody, especially him, ever thought he'd be having in the wake of his top finish in 1999. In this, the fifth event of the...

LEICESTER, NY - Chris Holbrook, defending Sunoco Pro Stock Champion, is still toughing his way through a season that nobody, especially him, ever thought he'd be having in the wake of his top finish in 1999. In this, the fifth event of the 2000 season, Holbrook is already in his third different car, and finds himself in unfamiliar surroundings - the bottom half of the points standings.

After the season opener at Darlington, Holbrook was stunned when his car owners unexpectedly announced that their racing program was being terminated. Fortunately, his friends and fellow competitors rallied around, and Chris soon found himself in Ron Miller's Olds Cutlass, which had been campaigned the year before by Steve Speiss. With Speiss moving on to a new Monte Carlo for 2000, the Cutlass was available. Other teams supplied a motor and all the bits and pieces necessary to allow Chris to get back on the track.

This was to be a short-lived arrangement, unfortunately, as at the next race at Rockingham, Speiss was involved in a major top-end crash, and his new car was destroyed. Holbrook, who qualified the Cutlass 16th, went out in the first round; but this was the least of his worries that weekend. Speiss had first dibs on Miller's spare car, and would now need to use it to finish the season. Two races, two cars, and Chris was on the outside looking in again.

Not one to give up easily, though, Holbrook rolled his former Top Sportsman Mustang into the shop, and in the six weeks break before the Canadian Nationals, went to work converting it to Pro Stock specs. Now he wasn't kidding himself that this car would be a real serious contender, but it would keep him in the game until a new car could be constructed. In Canada, Chris failed to qualify with a 6.862/201.56. At Cordova, he picked it up a little, but the 6.831/204.08 was still not enough to advance to the eliminations.

But at this weekend's Empire Nationals hosted by New York International Raceway Park in Leicester, NY., Holbrook finally managed to overcome at least one aggravating hurdle. He ran the rejuvinated Mustang to the 13th spot on the qualifying grid with a best time of 6.805/204.49. Now that he was in the show, his next goal was to click off some rounds. It wasn't to be this time around, however, as he was due to face his recent benefactor Ron Miller in the first stanza. Proving that friendship only goes so far, Miller laid down a stout 6.751/205.71 to Holbrook's troubled 10.511/129.75 effort.

In spite of the troubles he's had this year, Chris Holbrook is still in their fighting, and there's not much doubt that this "character building" will serve him well when he gets a new, official Pro Stocker under him again. He hopes his fate will change as he enters the next event, the CARQUEST Northern Nationals in Stanton, MI., August 4-6.

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