With a lap 99 pass, Eric Holmes won Saturday night’s SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series 100 presented by Pocket Radar at Roseville’s All-American Speedway.
Holmes made an outside move on lap 98 to move passed Jim Pettit II for second and drew even with race leader Dan Holtz on lap 99, to go on for his first SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series victory for car owner Quentin Bammer.
Holmes margin of victory over Holtz was .45 seconds; the 100-lap race took a total of 39 minutes and 16 seconds to complete. Holtz set a new qualifying track record of 13.090 seconds and pulled a five for the invert, which put Auggie Vidovich on the pole for the start of the race.
At the drop of the green, it was Vidovich jumping ahead of outside front row starter Ross Strmiska, followed closely by Brennan Newberry, Holtz and Jacob Gomes.
By lap 20 the top four had pulled away slightly from the field until Gomes, M.K. Kanke and Pettit began to reel in the leaders once lapped traffic slowed the progress of the top four.
The race remained green until a lap 34 incident involving the second and third place cars of Strmiska and Newberry in turns 1 and 2, both drivers spun but got going to restart in positions ninth and tenth.
On the lap 38 restart it was Vidovich still leading, followed by Gomes, Holtz, Kanke and Pettit. Holmes was up to sixth from his ninth starting position. Seventh was Thomas Martin, Derek Thorn eighth, Newberry ninth and Strmiska tenth.
Gomes began to pressure Vidovich for the lead, as Pettit put the pressure on Kanke for fourth. Caution flew again on lap 43 due to a spin in turn four and again on lap 57 for debris. While under caution, defending series champion, Kanke pitted to change a flat front tire.
On lap 66, the battle of the race began as Gomes pulled his Thunder Valley Casino Resort Chevrolet to the outside of Vidovich for the lead, at the line they were door to door. At lap 67, Gomes was the leader by just inches at the line, Vidovich moved the 17 year old Gomes up in turn two and moved back into the lead, but Gomes battled back to draw even on the inside coming off turn four. Lap 71, Gomes back into the lead, Vidovich now working the outside to re-take the position.
Lap 74, Vidovich made the cross-over move to take the lead, Gomes chased hard into three and four making contact and spinning the 2003 NASCAR Southwest Tour champion out of the lead. SRL rules states, “Any competitor having contact with race leader, resulting in the leader spinning and or being eliminated from competition will be put to the back of the field”. While under caution Vidovich then drove up to spin Gomes, which lead to Vidovich being black-flagged.
On the lap 78 restart it was now Holtz, followed by the 2008 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series champion Pettit, Holmes, and Newberry back up to fourth, Martin and Strmiska up to sixth. Holtz protected the bottom, while Pettit applied the pressure first low then high for the lead. Troy Ermish and Ryan Foster tangled bringing out the caution to set up a ten-lap shoot out to the end. The final caution flew on lap 95 due to an incident involving Josh Combs and Chris Winter.
On the restart, Newberry dove below Holmes to challenge for third, the top five were nose to tail. With three to go, Holmes moved to the outside of Pettit for second, while Pettit was glued to Holtz’s bumper, with Newberry trying to displace Pettit. Two to go it was still Holtz, with Holmes by inches over Pettit for second, Newberry with the best seat in the house, followed now by SRL point leader Jonathon Gomez.
White flag, Holmes led by inches on the outside of Holtz, the capacity crowd on their feet, Holmes cleared Holtz going into turn three. At the checkered it was Holmes, Holtz, Pettit, Newberry, Gomez, Strmiska, Kanke, Joe Farre’, Carlos Vieira and Keith Spangler rounding out the top ten.
Entering the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series championship finale at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Gomez leads the championship standings with 1414 points, Pettit is second with 1353, Thorn is third at 1316, followed by Foster at 1248 and Spangler in fifth with 1224. Gomes is the leading driver in the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year standings and Newberry leads the “K&N Filters’ Young Guns” championship.
The October 30th “RealFast.TV 200 presented by K&N Filters” is the final SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series points event of 2010. The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will compete in the Lucas Oil ‘California Classic’ at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on November 27th, with television coverage provided by the Versus Network.