The third time was the charm for Caleb Holman.
Holman, driver of the No. 75 Food Country USA Dodge, took his first win at the 0.400-mile oval in his third start at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. This makes Holman’s fourth win of the 2010 USA Racing Pro Cup Series season in Saturday’s Strutmasters.com 300 finished 2.634 second ahead of rookie driver Stephen Nasse.
“It’s always a big deal to win the last race of the year because those bragging rights last all winter,” said Holman. “You can go all winter and just keep thinking about that win. Those long, cold days in the shop you can think about that last sunny day you had at the racetrack.”
By all accounts, the race belonged to Holman, of Abingdon,Va. The day started off in his favor after he edged out Clay Rogers for the pole with a lap of 15.861 seconds, 90.789 mph, just 0.375 seconds off the track record.
Holman, who entered Saturday’s race 79 points behind defending series champion Rogers, led twice for a total of 235 laps in the 300-lap event. He did all he could to challenge Rogers but fell 49 points shy of the title.
“We lost the points at Bristol, the second race of the championship series,” said Holman. “We should have won that race, had the same deal we did here with leading the most laps. The way I figured it up is Clay had to beat us by 64 points to erase what happened to us at Bristol. It wasn’t anything that we could’ve done or not don e. It doesn’t bother me so bad knowing we did all we could do.”
Rogers took the lead once during the race on lap 99 after making a three-wide pass for the top spot under Holman and a lapped car.
“It’s a battle of wills, too,” said Holman in reference to Rogers’ three-wide pass. “It’s easy to get discouraged when something like that happens. In a 300-lap race you think you can coast around a little while and bide your time.”
Rogers would lead a total of 39 laps in the Strutmasters.com 300 before Holman returned to the lead on lap 138. He brought the No. 16 USG Sheetrock Ford home third, his 12th top-five in 14 races.
Second-place honors went to Stephen Nasse, driver of the No. 51 All American Concrete Chevrolet. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender and Pinellas Park, Fla. native recorded his career best Pro Cup finish in 11 starts.
“We’ve had a lot of bad luck this season and this is a good turnaround for us,” said Nasse. “Second-place isn’t bad and I’ll take that any day. It’s better than being wrecked and in the fence like we were last time. It feels great to have this. This is my best finish so far. I’m definitely happy with this finish.”
Newcomer Blake Jones wrapped up the 300-lap event in fourth place in his first USA Racing Pro Cup Series start. The 13-year-old Sevierville, Tenn. native plans to run full time in the series during the 2011 season.
Rounding out the top five was fellow teenager Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Red Bull Ford. The Dawsonville, Ga., native finished with five top-five and eight top-ten finishes in nine starts.