Monday Mar 31 2008
Short track to victory
By: Tom Kellar Gold Country Media
Holmes triumphs in NASCAR West Series opener at Roseville, seriesâ€™ shortest track
Tight turns, short straightaways and a track full of salty competitors proved no obstacle for Eric Holmes Saturday night at Roseville's All American Speedway. The newest driver in Bill McAnally's West Series NASCAR stable picked up where he ended last year, winning the season-opening Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150. Holmes began the race on the outside position in row one, next to pole-position qualifier Jason Bowles, but immediately took the lead during the first lap of the race and was in command throughout. For McAnally, the Antelope-based race car owner who was also the event's organizer, Saturday was a day for celebration. Not only was the West Series returning to Roseville for the first time in almost three decades, the event drew an estimated 6,000 spectators. Having one of his cars win in front of a sold-out grandstand was icing on the cake. It was a great race, McAnally said. What great attendance here at All American Speedway. The fans just really embraced this. It was standing-room only and to have Eric win in front of a home-town crowd like this couldn't be any better. Though Holmes led start to finish, he was challenged by second-place finisher David Mayhew, local driver Eric Schmidt ” who was making his West Series debut ” and teammate Austin Cameron, a driver returning to the NASCAR wars after being away for two seasons due to a battle with cancer. All American Speedway is the shortest of the 13 tracks hosting the West Series. The close quarters made for some tense moments as cars raced side by side around the Roseville oval. It was a great way to start our season, Holmes said. Bill did a heck of a job promoting this race and getting the people to support it. It feels good to win. This is the smallest track we run on and it's definitely tough to pass. But these are the kinds of tracks I'm good on. You have to be smooth and drive smart. It's really easy to overdrive the car, so you have to be patient and pace yourself. In the pits after the race, Cameron ” who at one point was in contention for second place ” was visibly upset by what he claimed was reckless driving on the part of pole-sitter Bowles. Bowles and Cameron collided late in the race, sending Cameron into the pits for repairs and costing him any chance at a top-three finish. It was a disappointing night, Cameron said. He (Bowles) was driving with the rectal-cranial inversion. You have to be more patient. It's a long season and there's just no need for that. Jason Bowles, I understand, was upset and had spun out a couple of times, but I think he's an idiot. After a restart, he just didn't let up and ran into the back of me. It was unnecessary. The driver gaining the most attention was, perhaps, Schmidt, a long-time fixture on the Roseville racing scene who made his West Series debut. He worked his way through the pack, eventually passing Mayhew for second place, but on the last lap he was hit from behind and spun out, ending his dreams of a trip to Victory Lane in front of the hometown crowd. That was fun, Schmidt said. We had a good car, but just didn't finish the way we wanted to. I'm not sure what happened at the end. I got hit from behind and spun out. Notes: For Holmes, the 2006 West Series champion, it was his second series win in a row after ending 2007 with a victory in the season's finale. ... Mike David, the 2007 West Series winner, finished third. ... Former San Francisco 49ers Dan Bunz and Keena Turner served as honorary starters. ... The event was shown nationally on HDnet and will be re-broadcast on the Speed Network.