HOLMES WINS BATTLE WITH TEAMMATE AUSTIN CAMERON TO TAKE TOP TROPHY AT THUNDER HILL KYLE, Texas (April 19, 2008) - For a majority of the race, Eric Holmes had just one car to get around to reach victory lane in the Allstate Texas Thunder 150...
HOLMES WINS BATTLE WITH TEAMMATE AUSTIN CAMERON TO TAKE TOP TROPHY AT THUNDER HILL
KYLE, Texas (April 19, 2008) - For a majority of the race, Eric Holmes had just one car to get around to reach victory lane in the Allstate Texas Thunder 150 at Thunder Hill Raceway. But because that one car was his teammate, Austin Cameron, Holmes knew it would take a combination of caution and aggression in securing the win in the NASCAR Camping World Series West event on Saturday, April 19.
"The car was fast," Holmes said. "I knew if I got the lead, I could drive away from those guys. I just knew I had to get by him. It's hard when you're racing your teammate. You can't be too aggressive. But lots of times you've got to be aggressive, so you don't make a mistake. You've got to be on your game."
The break Holmes needed came just after a caution. He restarted on the outside lane, but darted to the inside of Cameron coming off turn two to make the pass. "I got a good start that last time and got underneath him and he slipped," Holmes said of his pass by his fellow driver at Bill McAnally Racing.
Although Holmes quickly established a bit of a margin over second place, it was not completely clear sailing to the finish. An overheating engine left him concerned if he would make it to the checkered flag. "We started overheating at about lap 50 or 60 and I really didn't think the motor was going to hold up," Holmes said. "But the NASCAR spec engine really held together."
Holmes demonstrated the strength of his No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota by pulling away from the field in the final laps, despite his overheating issue. "The car was really good at the end," he said. "Probably the motor laid down a little bit power wise, but sometimes less power late in the race is a good thing."
Holmes, who had won the Coors Light Pole Award with a qualifying lap of 90.976 mph, had slipped to second on the initial start of the race after admittedly being caught off guard at the drop of the green flag. "We didn't get many pace laps there and didn't get a lot of heat in the tires," Holmes said. "I went down in the corner and my car bottomed out and he got me. I knew I just needed to get in line at that time and not race him too hard there."
After making the winning pass on lap 132, Holmes went on to cross the finish line with a margin of victory of 1.181 seconds - netting $9,000 in prize money and posted awards. It was the second win in three races this season by the Escalon, Calif., driver and the fourth of his career. One of those previous wins by Holmes was in the Texas event two years ago, en route to his 2006 championship.
After losing the lead - Cameron of El Cajon, Calif., still had a tough battle on his hands to come away with second in his NAPA Auto Care Toyota. David Mayhew of Atascadero, Calif., was a close third in his BayBioDiesel/RCR Chevrolet. Fourth and fifth went to Eric Hardin of Anaheim, Calif., in the Direct Shopping Network Chevrolet and Jim Inglebright of Fairfield, Calif., in the Jelly Belly Chevrolet. Completing the top 10 were Jason Bowles, Mike David, Jeff Barkshire, Mike Gallegos and Jason Patison.
The race had just two lead changes among two drivers. The pace of the event was slowed by eight cautions for 42 laps.
The victory by Holmes - together with his win in the season opener at Roseville, Calif., and Mike David's win in a Toyota at Phoenix - gives the Toyota nameplate three wins in three races in the NASCAR Camping World Series West in 2008.
With his top 10 finish, David was able to hold onto the lead in the championship standings over Holmes - 496 to 479. Third-place features a three-way tie in points with Cameron; Jeff Jefferson of Naches, Wash.; and a third BMR driver, Moses Smith of Tempe, Ariz. - each with 416 points. Sixth through 10th in the standings is Jeff Barkshire at 415, Mayhew at 408, Jason Bowles at 404, Brett Thompson at 395 and Jason Patison at 395.
The battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award is shaping up to be a wide-open challenge. Barkshire and Patison lead the standings, with 26 points each. Jim Warn is close behind with 25, followed by Jamie Dick with 23. They are trailed by Wes Banks with 18, Lloyd Mack with 16 and Ryan Philpott with nine.
The next event on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series is the US Cellular 200 East/West combination race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, on May 18.