Mike Johnson and Eric Holmes Capture NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Victories at Irwindale Speedway IRWINDALE, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2004) -- Mike Johnson of the Busch North Series emerged the winner in the NASCAR Grand National Division ...
Mike Johnson and Eric Holmes Capture NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Victories at Irwindale Speedway
IRWINDALE, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2004) -- Mike Johnson of the Busch North Series emerged the winner in the NASCAR Grand National Division feature race, while the Southwest Series' Eric Holmes came from behind to capture the 125-lap NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division race in Saturday night's NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway.
Johnson, of Salisbury, Mass., started 24th and advanced to eighth at the 100-lap break in the 150-lap Grand National race. He took the lead when the top eight cars were inverted and led the rest of the way.
"This is definitely one of the highlights of my career and it's going to stick out for a long time," said Johnson. "I just tried to stay consistent and out of trouble. I was lucky. The car was so much better than we were [Friday] night in the qualifying race and that says a lot about how hard this crew has worked."
Matt Kobyluck started 26th and finished second, while Joey McCarthy and Mike Olsen completed a Busch North Series sweep of the top four positions with Tim Woods III leading the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series contingent in fifth place. Bobby Dragon (Busch North), West Series champion Mike Duncan, Kelly Moore, Brian Hoar, and Bryon Chew (all Busch North) completed the top ten. Johnson, who won once during the 2004 Busch North Series regular season, picked up $31,000 for his victory. By one position, Kobyluck edged Johnson to win the POWERade Power Move of the Race Award for position improvement.
The race spelled nothing but trouble for the favorites. David Gilliland (West Series) and Andy Santerre (Busch North) won Friday night's qualifying races and pulled away from the field at the green flag, but Santerre retired after 13 laps with a broken differential and Gilliland, after leading 90 laps, was eliminated in accident two laps after the 100-lap break which also took out defending race winner Austin Cameron. A restart tangle at the 122-lap mark took out contender Ryan Moore, and Scott Lynch lost his third place when he spun coming to the white flag and was collected by Bryon Chew. Since the leader had already taken the white flag, the event ended under a combined caution and checkered flag.
The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division 125-lap race was dominated by the homestanding Southwest Series contingent, which led every lap. Eric Holmes, of Escalon, Calif., chased fellow qualifying race winner Burney Lamar throughout the first 75 laps, but the pair found themselves on the third row after a six-car inversion for the final 50 circuits. The inversion put another Southwest Series driver, Rip Michels, in front but Holmes moved relentlessly forward and took the lead with half a dozen laps remaining. His margin of victory over Michels was just under one second.
Lamar claimed third with Craig Raudman giving the Southwest Series a top-four sweep. Erik Darnell of the Southeast Series charged from 27th to fifth to win the POWERade Power Move of the Race Award. Jeff Jefferson (Northwest Series), Eddie Hoffman (Midwest Series), Kevin Prince (Southeast), Jason Jefferson (Northwest), and Eddy McKean (Southwest) made up the balance of the top ten. In contrast to the Grand National race, there were no major incidents in the AutoZone Elite feature and 36 of the 40 starters were running at the finish, with 32 cars on the lead lap. Holmes won $13,500.
In the "team" competition, which ranked each participating series by points after the 10-minute competition break in each event, the Busch North Series and Southwest Series were victorious. Drivers from each series shared an additional $50,000 for this "team" victory.