Eric Holmes added a new track to his résumé of wins as he took the victory in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 in the inaugural visit by the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West to Montana Raceway Park on Saturday night.
The two-time champion from Escalon, Calif., used a long green-flag run at the start of the race to move up from his starting position of seventh and set up his charge for the lead. After a debris caution on Lap 103 bunched the field, Holmes worked past David Mayhew on Lap 113 and took the race lead – a spot that he would not relinquish the rest of the night.
“I was hoping for no more cautions,” Holmes said. ”I knew I had the better car and I could stretch the lead out. I really wanted to take the high side once I was leading. It was fun. I don't think we've ever gone 105 laps without a caution. I was definitely working. I almost got dizzy after that.”
His charge to the front during the long green flag run did not come easy, according to Holmes.
“It was tough to pass, but I got by them guys,” he said. “I was trying not to run David down. I didn't want to have to try to run him down, figuring there would be a caution. About lap 100, I started putting my head down and going to try to catch him. Then we got the caution and that's all I needed, a couple good restarts.”
Holmes credited his Bill McAnally Racing team for having the right set-up on the car.
“The NAPA Toyota team did a great job setting the car up. It was good at the end when it mattered,” he said. “I know we missed a little bit in qualifying. We've been doing that this year. As long as we get to the front and not beat the car up too bad so we can race it next week in Denver.”
It was Holmes’ third win of the season and the 12th of his series career. As the leader in the championship standings coming into the event and the only driver with multiple wins, he was able to pad his points with just four events remaining on the schedule in his quest for a third series title.
Mayhew, who led a race-high 94 laps, settled for a second-place finish and now trails Holmes by 79 points in the standings.
“He just has a real good car at the end of these short tracks,” Mayhew said of Holmes. “He had us handled at the end. We really need to win one of these short tracks. We've been second to that NAPA car way too many times.”
Moses Smith finished the race in third. He was followed by Jonathon Gomez and Gary Lewis, who has top-five finishes in both of his career series starts.
Daryl Harr, Blake Koch, Michael Self, Luis Martinez Jr. and Todd Souza made up the remainder of the top-10 finishers.
In qualifying earlier in the evening, Greg Pursley collected his second Coors Light Pole Award of the year. He was caught up in a late-race incident, however, which ended his night with an 18th-place finish.
The Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 from Montana Raceway Park will air on SPEED on Thursday, Aug. 12 at 3 p.m. PT.
The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 at Colorado National Speedway in Dacono, Colo., on Saturday, Aug. 14.
NASCAR K&N PRO SERIES WEST
TOYOTA/NAPA AUTO PARTS BONUS CHALLENGE 150
At Montana Raceway Park
Lap length: 0.25 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (7) Eric Holmes, Escalon, Calif., Toyota, 150 laps, 50.130 mph, $7,500.
2. (3) David Mayhew, Atascadero, Calif., Chevrolet, 150, $5,000.
3. (13) Moses Smith, Tempe, Ariz., Toyota, 150, $5,600.
4. (4) Jonathon Gomez, Twin Falls, Idaho, Chevrolet, 150, $3,000.
5. (10) Gary Lewis, Bothel, Wash., Chevrolet, 150, $2,500.
6. (8) Daryl Harr, St Albert, Alberta, Chevrolet, 150, $2,250.
7. (12) Blake Koch, West Palm Beach, Fla., Chevrolet, 150, $2,600.
8. (2) Michael Self, Park City, Utah, Chevrolet, 150, $2,825.
9. (5) Luis Martinez, Jr., Long Beach, Calif., Ford, 150, $2,409.
10. (16) Todd Souza, Aromas, Calif., Chevrolet, 150, $2,350.
11. (6) Paulie Harraka, Wayne, N.J., Toyota, 150, $2,300.
12. (9) Travis Bennett, Ellensburg, Wash., Ford, 150, $2,250.
13. (14) Justin Funkhouser, Paradise, Calif., Chevrolet, 149, $1,700.
14. (11) Thomas Martin, Auburn, Calif., Chevrolet, 148, $2,150.
15. (20) Greg Rayl, Roseville, Calif., Ford, 147, $2,100.
16. (15) Travis Milburn, Eagle, Idaho, Chevrolet, 147, $2,050.
17. (17) Troy Ermish, Fremont, Calif., Chevrolet, 144, $1,500.
18. (1) Greg Pursley, Newhall, Calif., Ford, 127, accident, $3,575.
19. (18) Jack Sellers, Sacramento, Calif., Chevrolet, 111, engine, $1,950.
20. (19) Carl Harr, Edmonton, Alberta, Toyota, 13, brakes, $1,425.
Time of Race: 44 minutes 53 seconds
Margin of Victory: 1.007 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: G.Pursley (65.350 mph, 13.772 seconds)
Caution Flags: 3 for 20 laps.
Lead Changes: 2 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: G. Pursley 1-18; D. Mayhew 19-112; E. Holmes 113-150.
Standings: 1. E. Holmes, 1292; 2. D. Mayhew, 1213; 3. J. Gomez, 1130; 4. P. Harraka, 1119; 5. M. Smith, 1119; 6. B. Koch, 1089; 7. L. Martinez,Jr., 1088; 8. M. Self, 1058; 9. T. Souza, 1006; 10. G. Pursley, 1002.