ERIC HOLMES HOPES TO DOUBLE-UP AT NASCAR TOYOTA ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN
West Series Points Leader Wants Twin Wins
Eric Holmes knows what it takes to get to victory lane in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He won the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division portion of this prestigious post-season event at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in 2004.

Holmes, of Escalon, Calif., is hoping to take that success one step further in 2006. He is on track to become the first driver to simultaneously earn spots in the both the Elite Division and in the Grand National Division events, in this year’s edition of the all-star event.

Holmes and car owner Allen Beebe decided to tackle both divisions this season. Their initial plans were to run the full Southwest Series schedule and select events in the AutoZone West Series, in preparation for next year. After the first few races, Holmes and Beebe found themselves among the leaders of the AutoZone West Series, an unexpected result that caused them to re-think their approach.

“Even though we had a bad run at [Infineon Raceway], we still were in it,” said Holmes. “At that point, we made the decision to go for the whole year.”

Holmes is currently leading the point standings for the AutoZone West Series with two events remaining. In the Southwest Series, he is 11 points out of first place, with only one race remaining to decide the championship. In addition to claiming two spots in the Toyota All-Star Showdown, Holmes could win both championships. Such a rare feat - winning two series titles in the season season simultaneously - has only occurred three times in NASCAR history: Lee Petty won the Short Track Division and Grand National Division (now NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series) championships in 1958 and former Toyota All-Star Showdown competitor Mike Stefanik won the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships simultaneously in '97 and again in '98.

“It’s something that we really wanted to do,” said Holmes. “I would love to win it again and get the opportunity to win two in one night. No one has done that. It’s a race I really enjoy. There’s a lot of stuff that goes with [this event]. It’s the biggest thing we have.”

The fourth annual Toyota All-Star Showdown, which showcases NASCAR’s top regional touring series drivers and teams in an invitation-only format, returns to Irwindale Oct. 20-21. The top 15 drivers from the two series that comprise the NASCAR Grand National Division – the AutoZone West Series and the Busch East Series – are invited, along with the top 10 drivers from each of the four series in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, which includes the Midwest Series, Northwest Series, Southeast Series and Southwest Series.

Holmes, a veteran of the Southwest Series, finished 14th in Elite Division portion of the inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown in 2003. After winning the coveted prize in 2004, he ran a limited Southwest Series schedule last year and missed out on the post-season competition.
Eric Holmes.  (NASCAR Photos Credit).
Holmes acknowledged that running both events will be a challenge, but his team is ready. “I think we’re pretty well prepared. [There is still] a little time [left] to see what our equipment is going to be like at that point.”

Doing double-duty on a big weekend is nothing new to Holmes or the Beebe Racing Enterprises team.

“At Phoenix, in January, I ran both cars on the same day and finished second and third,” said Holmes. “I think we have enough people, knowledge and equipment to do it. I’m really looking forward to that day. It will be a busy, busy day, though.”
Holmes is currently leading the point standings for the AutoZone West Series with two events remaining. In the Southwest Series, he is 11 points out of first place, with only one race remaining to decide the championship. In addition to claiming two spots in the Toyota All-Star Showdown, Holmes could win both championships. Such a rare feat - winning two series titles in the season season simultaneously - has only occurred three times in NASCAR history: Lee Petty won the Short Track Division and Grand National Division (now NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series) championships in 1958 and former Toyota All-Star Showdown competitor Mike Stefanik won the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships simultaneously in '97 and again in '98.