STOCKTON, Calif. (Aug. 5, 2006) -- This year's see-saw battle for the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series championship between two drivers from California's Central Valley played out on their home track in thrilling ...
STOCKTON, Calif. (Aug. 5, 2006) -- This year's see-saw battle for the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series championship between two drivers from California's Central Valley played out on their home track in thrilling fashion on Saturday night as Mike David and Eric Holmes swapped the lead back-and-forth in hopes of winning the final series race at Stockton 99 Speedway.
David prevailed in the Dodge Country 200 by Havoline and NAPA Belts & Hose, giving him a sweep of both series visits to the quarter-mile oval this season and a slim five-point advantage in the championship standings.
The two drivers -- both second generation competitors at Stockton -- had entered the event tied for first in points. Each had hopes of victory in the final series visit to the speedway, which is slated to close at the end of the season.
"Eric's a heck of a racer. I think we just had a better car on long runs," David said afterward. "He was most certainly quicker on short runs. It worked out good for us at the end."
Holmes, who started off the event by winning the Budweiser Pole Award with a qualifying lap of 63.501 mph, led the first 55 laps before David briefly edged ahead after a lap 56 restart. The pair ultimately traded the lead five times, with David gaining the lead for the final time on a lap 144 restart.
"I think we just got a little better jump on him," David said. "The cars were so equal. If he would have beat me on the start, I don't know if I would have got back around him. It's easier to drive when you're out front, you're timing is better and everything."
David of Modesto, Calif., driver crossed the finish line in his Bennett Lane Winery Ford with a margin of victory of 1.260 seconds. He netted $9,491 in prize money and posted awards. It marked David's fourth career series win, with three of those victories coming at Stockton. His other win was also bittersweet, as he captured the victory in the final series event at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., before its closure last year.
Holmes of Escalon, Calif., was second at Stockton in the Sunoco Race Fuels/Paul Oil Chevrolet. Peyton Sellers of Danville, Va. -- who trailed David and Holmes by just 12 points heading to Stockton -- took third in the NAPA Auto Parts/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet. Fourth went to Austin Cameron of El Cajon, Calif., in the RaceCarFans.com Chevrolet. Despite an early spin after contact with another car -- Scott Gaylord of Lakewood, Colo., was able to battle his way back to take fifth in the Oliver Gravity Separators/Denver Seminary Chevrolet. Rounding out the top 10 were Tim Woods III, Mike Duncan, Steve Portenga, Justin Lofton and Eric Hardin.
David now leads Holmes by five points, 1,374 to 1,369, with nine of 12 races complete this season. Sellers is close behind with 1,342. Portenga is fourth with 1,290, shadowed by Duncan with 1,289. Sixth through 10th in the standings include Gaylord with 1,211, Jim Inglebright with 1,210, Lofton with 1,185, Cameron with 1,158 and Johnny Borneman with 1,150.
Sellers extended his lead in the battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He tops the list with 78 points, followed by Lofton at 72, Brian Ickler with 66 and Eric Hardin with 58. Others include Daniel DiGiacomo at 23, James Bruncati at 20, Eric Humphries at 16, Brian Pannone at 16, Nick Lynch at 15, Spencer Clark at 14, Justin Fisher at eight, Travis Powell at six and Ed Watson at two.
The next event on the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series schedule will be at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sept. 1.