Holmes Dominates Southwest Series Clash in the Desert PHOENIX, ARIZ. (October 3, 2004) With temperatures soaring to 100 degrees Sunday afternoon in Phoenix, Eric Holmes of Escalon, Calif. beat the heat to score a dominating victory by leading...
Holmes Dominates Southwest Series Clash in the Desert
PHOENIX, ARIZ. (October 3, 2004) With temperatures soaring to 100 degrees Sunday afternoon in Phoenix, Eric Holmes of Escalon, Calif. beat the heat to score a dominating victory by leading every lap en route to his second win of the season in NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series competition. Holmes scorched the field and took the victory by 9.3 seconds over Craig Raudman, with two-time Phoenix winner Eddy McKean finishing third. 2003 series champion Auggie Vidovich had his best performance of his part-time season finishing fourth and 2004 series point leader Jim Pettit II rounded out the top five.
Holmes started on the pole by virtue of his second consecutive Bud Pole Award as he toured the one-mile oval in 27.656 seconds/130.171 mph to pace qualifying. Raudman, Burney Lamar, McKean, and David Gilliland rounded out the top five qualifiers for the 100-lap JC Glass sponsored event.
Holmes bolted to the lead at the drop of the green flag and led the field into turn one. The pack quickly got sorted out in single file. The only caution of the event came out on lap five when the Chevrolet of Nick Lynch spun entering the dog-leg. Lynch had to stop several times for repairs and ended up finishing 30th.
Holmes continued to pace the field on the lap ten restart and began to build a significant lead on Raudman. McKean got around Raudman on lap ten and set his sights on Holmes. Lamar ran fourth, with Gilliland, Danny Burson, Vidovich, Rookie Rip Michels, Darrell LaMoure, and Joey Miller running in the top ten.
By lap 23, Holmes had built a three second lead on McKean, Raudman, and Lamar. Dan Holtz lost power and headed to the pits eventually finishing 29th. At the lap 25 mark Pettit made his way into the tenth position from his 24th starting position and searched for more in order to keep his point lead in tack.
David Gilliland hoping to sweep the daily double lost his first bid when his distributor failed relegating the Riverside, Calif. driver to a 28th place finish at lap 36. By this time McKean turned up the wick on his Pontiac and reeled in Holmes as the duo began to lap the rear of the field.
Vidovich moved into the fourth position on lap 42 getting by Lamar. Michels, Joey Miller, Pettit, Burson, and Joe Herold completed the top ten. Kevin Clark ran in 11th, followed by Doug McCoun, Brandon Riehl, Stan Silva Jr., Greg Voigt, Mike Price and Justin Martz.
By lap 50, Holmes and McKean distanced themselves from Raudman by four seconds and Raudman had an equal lead on Vidovich. As Holmes and McKean navigated lapped traffic, Holmes was able to dispatch with the slower cars with greater ease than McKean and started to build up his lead again. The top ten stayed the same over the next 25 laps with Holmes blasting through the field at a blistering pace.
By lap 85, Holmes had built a six second lead on McKean and lapped up to the eighth position occupied by Michels. McKean started to develop a push that allowed Raudman to close and pass on lap 86. With ten laps to go, Holmes was comfortably out front with Raudman riding in second. McKean was hanging on as Vidovich started to close in with laps winding down.
At the finish Holmes crossed the line more than nine seconds ahead of Raudman to score the most dominating win of his career. The win was Holmes' fifth career triumph and first with his new Victory Circle Chassis and Freight-Train Peters engine combination.
"This was a lot of fun," Holmes said. "This is the best car I have ever driven and the most comfortable I have I have been here at Phoenix. I want to thank Allen Beebe (owner) for all of his support and dedication to the team."
Finishing second and shaving fifteen points off Pettit's lead was Craig Raudman who scored his seventh top five of the season. "I did not have anything for Eric at the end," Raudman said. "But I am real happy that Victory Circle cars took the top three spots. This is going to be an interesting race to the championship and I was able to close in a bit on Jim (Pettit)."
Scoring his seventh top three finish at Phoenix in the last eight race was Eddy McKean. "My right rear started going flat with twenty laps to go and I was just glad to hang on. Eric drove a great race and it was another great race for us."
Pettit had to work his way through the field but managed to tally his series leading eighth top five finish of the season and maintain a slim ten point lead heading into the event at Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway in two weeks. "We had to work real hard all weekend," Pettit said. "We really did not get the car figured out until the final practice and we still had to make pretty significant changes before the race. I was not happy with how we qualified, but a top five finish is certain a victory for. I am sure glad this race did not go extra distance as I ran dry at the finish."
The race took just 53 minutes and 25 seconds to complete at an average speed of 112.324 mph (race record). The action was only slowed one time for five laps of caution with Eric Holmes leading all 100 laps. Pettit collected the PowerAde Award for improving the most positions in the event (19) and a $750 bonus. Joe Herold won the $300 Featherlite Award for improving the most positions from the previous event (12). Michels again claimed top rookie honors with his eighth place finish and maintain his tenth place position in the point standings.
Pettit(1726) maintains the top spot in the standings followed by Raudman (-10), Lamar (-122), Holmes (-211), and McKean (-230). Joe Herold moves up to the sixth position, with Greg Voigt, Doug McCoun, Todd Souza, and Michels rounding out the top ten in the standings. Danny Burson sits just outside the top ten trailing Michels by only 52 points.
Holmes' winning Chevrolet is a 2004 Victory Circle Chassis powered by a Freight-Train Peters powerplant and sponsored by KENCO, Paul Oil, and Taco Bell.
The next event for the AutoZone Southwest Series is in two weeks at the half-mile paved oval in Bakersfield, Calif. at Mesa Marin Raceway. With only three races left in the championship chase the battle is wide open. Log onto www.nascarregionalracing.com for all the latest news and information regarding the Southwest Series and all NASCAR regional racing action.
<pre> AUTOZONE SOUTHWEST SERIES TOP 20 POINTS(WINS) 1. Jim Pettit II 1726 (3) 2. Craig Raudman 1716 (2) 3. Burney Lamar 1604 (1) 4. Eric Holmes 1515 (2) 5. Eddy McKean 1496 (1) 6. Joe Herold 1385 - 7. Greg Voigt 1373 - 8. Doug McCoun 1368 - 9. Todd Souza 1328 - 10. Rip Michels 1321 - 11. Danny Burson 1269 - 12. Nick Lynch 1197 - 13. Nick Joanides 1187 - 14. Darrell LaMoure 1180 - 15. Thomas Martin 1124 - 16. Bob Lyon 1120 - 17. Dan Holtz 1062 - 18. David Gilliland 1043 (1) 19. Todd Burns 807 - 20. Ben Walker 772 -
ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR STANDINGS Name Pts Rip Michels 104 Nick Lynch 90 Todd Burns 33
MANUFACTURE' STANDINGS MFG Pts Chevrolet 82 Ford 65 Pontiac 62 Dodge 3
FEATHERLITE AWARD STANDINGS Name Pts Danny Burson 2 Rip Michels 1 David Gilliland 1 Eric Holmes 1 Stephen Sadler 1 Darrell LaMoure 1 Eric Holmes 1 Tracy Bolin 1 Randy Nelson 1 Joe Herold 1
BUD POLE AWARD STANDINGS Name Poles Craig Raudman 4 Burney Lamar 3 Eric Holmes 2 Zach Niessner 1 Boris Said 1
POWERADE MOVE OF THE RACE Name Pts Todd Souza 2 Doug McCoun 1 David Gilliland 1 Bob McCoun 1 Ben Walker 1 Greg Voigt 1 Rudy Revak 1 Darrell LaMoure 1 Nick Joanides 1 Jim Pettit II 1