HOLMES AND SOUTHWEST SERIES RULE IRWINDALE
Holmes, Michels, Lamar And Raudman Lead SWS Sweep
Eric Holmes, who won one of the two qualifying races on Friday night, led the Southwest Series again on Saturday night, taking the top spot following a great battle with Southwest Series Rookie of the Year and former multi-time Irwindale Speedway track champion Rip Michels.

It didn’t come easy.  Holmes ran second for almost the entire first portion of the first 75-lap segment to Burney Lamar despite a couple of great side-by-side battles between the two.  He then had to battle with a fifth-place starting spot for the last 50 laps following the invert.

Much like his qualifying race on Friday night, Holmes just slowly worked his way into second and then used the final
The Southwest Series showed that they are the best of the best when it comes to the Elite Divisions in the NASCAR world on Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway (CA) during the Toyota All Star Showdown.
50-lap segment to slowly reel in Michels, who started on the pole following the invert and pulled away to nearly a two-second lead at one point.

“I was confident I could come back and win the thing after the break,” said Holmes.  “Rip pulled away and I was having a hard time catching him.  I was moving all over.  I think I finally started pressuring him and he felt the pressure.

“The key to this deal was all the practice that we did and making the car work in all different kinds of lines around the track.  That was something I’ve learned from running here in the past.”
The Southwest Series lined the podium, with (l-r) Burney Lamar (third), Eric Holmes (winner) and Rip Michels (second).  (51 Photos)
Running at Irwindale twice during the year likely gave the Southwest guys an edge and it showed.  Much of the night, the top-three, four or five was normally made up of Southwest Series drivers.

“I think some of the other guys really missed it,” said Holmes.  “(The Southwest Series) do have an advantage here.  All of us were pretty determined though.  I think it showed.  We have some great guys in this series.”

Lamar, who led all 75 laps of the first segment struggled in coming back through the field following the break.  He could only make it up to third by the end.
Michels led from the start of the last 50 laps before giving up the lead to the determined Holmes on lap 118. 

Just a few laps later, Holmes got the win.

“I’ve really hit a stride here late in the year,” added Holmes.  “I think we could have won anywhere.  We all just put it together.

“This is a very big win.  I’m in the at point in my life tha I want to move up, but I’m also at the age where I’m cutting it pretty close by being to old.  I told my car owner that if I don’t get picked up for something next year, we might cut back a little bit next year and I’ll go out and get a real job or something.  This hopefully helped us out.”

It wasn’t without it’s problems for Holmes though.  Around lap 50, he lost his power steering.
Eric Holmes was tough to beat on Saturday night, in a slow, methodical way.
“I’ve raced Burney a lot and I didn’t want to make contact with him during that first segmet.  I didn’t want anything dumb to happen.  I just wanted to pressure him.  About lap 50 I lost my power steering.  It made it struggle for a while.  I thought I had a flat tire, but I realized what it was, so I just put my head down and worked with it. 

“I made a run for him at the end.  I didn’t care if I beat him, I just wanted to know that I could do it.  I knew I could do it. “

Raudman came from his ninth-place starting spot and finished a strong fourth.  Erik Darnell moved up from his 27th starting spot to finish an impressive fifth.  The Southeast Series driver the was top finish from anyone outside the SWS. 
Unofficial Results
NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division
1. (2) Eric Holmes, Escalon Calif., Chevrolet, 125, 76.245 mph, $13,350
2. (8) Rip Michels, Mission Hills Calif., Chevrolet, 125, $10,125
3. (1) Burney Lamar, Bakersfield Calif., Chevrolet, 125, $8,650
4. (9) Craig Raudman, Bakersfield Calif., Chevrolet, 125, $7,750
5. (27) Erik Darnell, Beach Park Ill., Chevrolet, 125, $9,000
6. (12) Jeff Jefferson, Naches Wash., Chevrolet, 125, $8,550
7. (5) Eddie Hoffman, Wheaton Ill., Chevrolet, 125, $7,500
8. (20) Kevin Prince, Wilmington N.C., Chevrolet, 125, $7,250
9. (6) Jason Jefferson, Yakima Wash., Dodge, 125, $7,500
10. (18) Eddy McKean, Jerome Idaho, Pontiac, 125, $6,250
11. (3) Doug McCoun, Prunedale Calif., Chevrolet, 125, $6,000
12. (19) Pete Harding, Surrey B.C., Chevrolet, 125, $6,800
13. (7) John Bender, Snohomish Wash., Chevrolet, 125, $6,700
14. (31) Travis Bennett, Ellensburg Wash., Chevrolet, 125, $6,725
15. (17) Garrett Evans, East Wenatchee Wash., Chevrolet, 125, $6,500
16. (26) Dusty Williams, Garden City Ga., Chevrolet, 125, $5,900
17. (35) Jeff Fultz, Cincinnati Ohio, Chevrolet, 125, $5,800
18. (11) Brian Hoppe, Madison Wis., Chevrolet, 125, $5,700
19. (29) Justin Diercks, Davenport Iowa, Chevrolet, 125, $5,600
20. (10) Tim Schendel, Sparta Wis., Chevrolet, 125, $5,500
21. (23) Justin Wakefield, Woodstock Ga., Ford, 125, $5,500
22. (24) Ryan Hanson, Beloit Wis., Ford, 125, $5,500
23. (25) Joe Benedetti, Auburn Wash., Chevrolet, 125, $6,000
24. (30) Steve Carlson, West Salem Wis., Chevrolet, 125, $5,500
25. (33) Joe Herold, Poway Calif., Chevrolet, 125, $5,000
26. (39) A.J. Rhoads, Hastings Minn., Chevrolet, 125, $5,500
27. (28) Justin Hirt, Tigerton Wis., Chevrolet, 125, $5,625
28. (34) Jim Pettit, II, Prunedale Calif., Ford, 125, $5,000
29. (21) Russ Blakeley, Richmond Wis., Chevrolet, 125, $5,500
30. (36) Gary Lewis, Bothell Wash., Chevrolet, 125, $6,000
31. (4) Todd Souza, Aromas Calif., Chevrolet, 125, $5,000
32. (14) Brandon Riehl, Boring Ore., Chevrolet, 125, $6,000
33. (32) Bryan Roach, Becker Minn., Chevrolet, 124, $5,500
34. (38) Steven Howard, Roy Wash., Chevrolet, 124, $6,000
35. (16) Greg Pope, Monroe N.C., Chevrolet, 111, $5,500
36. (22) Robert Richardson, II, McKinney  Tex , Chevrolet, 106, $5,625
37. (13) Greg Voigt, Santa Barbara Calif., Chevrolet, 98, $5,000
38. (37) Allen Karnes, Sharpsburg Ga., Chevrolet, 99, $5,500
39. (40) J.R. Norris, Mulga Ala., Ford, 88, $5,500
40. (15) Chris Davidson, Pearland Tex., Chevrolet, 66, $5,500





Former Irwindale Speedway track champion Rip Michels (#12) led much of the late race, but couldn't hold on to the lead.