HOLMES WINS SEASON FINALE AT ALTAMONT; WHILE DAVID WRAPS UP CHAMPIONSHIP TRACY, Calif. (Sept. 15, 2007) -- Long-time friends and sometime rivals Eric Holmes and Mike David both had reason to celebrate at Altamont Motorsports Park...
HOLMES WINS SEASON FINALE AT ALTAMONT; WHILE DAVID WRAPS UP CHAMPIONSHIP
TRACY, Calif. (Sept. 15, 2007) -- Long-time friends and sometime rivals Eric Holmes and Mike David both had reason to celebrate at Altamont Motorsports Park on Saturday. Holmes scored a dominant win, while David won the championship as the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series closed out its 2007 season on the half-mile oval in Northern California with the Dan Gamel RV Centers 200.
Holmes, the 2006 series champion, took an early lead and never looked back as he sailed to victory in one of only four series events he competed in this year. David, who finished second to Holmes in last year's standings, entered the event with a sizable points lead and secured the title by the midway point of the race as attrition took its toll on the 28-car field.
David's finish was not without some drama, however, as he encountered mechanical trouble with about 50 laps to go. "I broke the transmission and only had high gear," he said. "It was shaking and popping and making noises it's not supposed to. I just held on to her."
Despite losing positions on the restarts, David was able to finish third in the Bennett Lane Winery Ford. Nevertheless, he was disappointed at not being able to challenge Holmes for the win on their home track. "I was telling my spotter to tell Eric's spotter, 'how about a fast restart?' But Eric wouldn't help us out," David later said with a chuckle. "That's okay. He was a little better than us anyway. I think we had a second-place car, but it would have been fun to get up there and race with him."
For Holmes, whose effort to run in the Busch East Series this season ended in frustration, the win provided him with some consolation -- as well as securing him a spot in the prestigious post-season NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. "I knew I could do this stuff," he said. "So, I came back to prove it. We'll go to the Showdown and I'll show them what I've got there."
Holmes crossed the finish line with a margin of victory of 2.378 seconds, at an average speed of 57.297 mph. The win netted him $6,917 in prize money and posted awards.
He attributed his dominance to his Paul Oil Company Chevrolet. "I had a great car," Holmes said. "The 16 would have given me a run for my money, but I think I still could have beaten him," Holmes said of Brian Ickler.
Ickler turned in a fast-lap of 100.346 mph in winning his third Bud Pole Award of the season. He had the No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet out front for the first seven laps, before Holmes slipped by on a restart. Ickler pressured Holmes at times, but dropped off the lead lap with a flat tire on lap 73. He fell further behind with additional flat tires later in the race, leaving him to finish 16th.
A career-best finish went to series rookie David Mayhew of Atascadero, Calif. -- who took the runner-up spot to Holmes in the Golden Gate Petroleum/RCR Chevrolet. Kyle Cattanach of Redding, Calif., also had a career-best mark, with a fourth-place finish in the Dan Gamel/Eldorado Hotel Toyota. This year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Jason Bowles of Ontario, Calif., was fifth in the Sunrise Ford/Turbo Torq Ford. Rounding out the top 10 were Daryl Harr, Mike Duncan, Alex Haase, Eric Richardson and Eric Hardin.
David finished his season with a 114-point margin over Duncan in the championship standings. Bowles finished third in the standings, followed by Ickler and Johnny Borneman. Justin Lofton, Hardin, Brett Thompson, Haase and Richardson complete the top 10 of the point standings.
Winning the series championship is something that David and car owners Randy Lynch and his wife, Lisa, have been focused on since beginning their Grand National West Series program in 2001. "It was an important goal to us when we started, Randy, Lisa and I and the whole team," David said after clinching the title. "So, to achieve your goal is a real important thing."
While David was securing the championship, Bowles was enjoying the title as Sunoco Rookie of the Year. He finished the season with 93 points -- followed by Haase with 79, Richardson with 78, Ryan Foster with 61, Moses Smith with 58, Mayhew with 47, Stan Silva Jr., and Rick Wall with 42, and Mike Gallegos with 37.
West Series drivers will head to Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway to face competitors from across the country in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Oct. 19-20.