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Escalon driver seeks change of fortune in Southwest finale

 

SCOTT LINESBURGH
Record Staff Writer
Published Saturday, Jul 15, 2006

Eric Holmes is putting past crashes behind him and concentrating on trying to win the final NASCAR Southwest Series race at Stockton 99 Speedway.

Holmes, M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park and points leader Rip Michel will be featured in the Autozone 100 at 6 p.m. today. The Western Late Model drivers will race in the seventh round of the Hotwood 1,000, and the American Limited Stock Car and Pro-4 Truck divisions will compete.

The Southwest Series has come to Stockton 99 since its inception in 1986. The track is set to close at the end of the season, and the Southwest Series is one of several divisions being eliminated because of NASCAR's regional restructuring program.

Holmes, an Escalon resident, hopes to pick up a win at his home track after a controversial collision late in the Southwest race on July 2 at Altamont Motorsports Park.

Holmes had the lead but crashed into the wall after being bumped by Michel. Holmes was irate after the incident. He finished 13th and Michel passed him for the points lead after finishing second to Kanke.

"I'm still not happy about that, but I just have to put it behind me," Holmes said. "I might be a little more careful when I'm around Rip, but I won't crash him. I don't drive like that, and it's not smart."

Michel said he wasn't sure who was to blame for the accident, but did not expect any retribution from Holmes.

"Eric is a very good racer and a smart guy, and we're both there to run for a championship," Michel said. "I will say that I'm excited to come into Stockton because it's his home track, and if we can beat Eric at Stockton, that's a good step toward the championship."

Michel leads with 645 points, Eddy McKean has 635 and Holmes is third with 649. Kanke is fourth (549), and he comes to Stockton to chase history.

Kanke's win at Altamont was his 21st, tying atop the all-time list with Rick Carelli. He said he's going to miss the Southwest Series and isn't too concerned about the wins record.

"Other people worry about it more than I do," Kanke said of the record. "We just go out and run, and that's how we won those races. I will really miss this series, and hopefully I can win this last one at Stockton."

Jeff and Steve Belletto of Modesto and Angelo Queirolo of Lathrop are scheduled to race.

Guy Guibor of Manteca won the WLM main event last week and comes into Saturday as the divisional points leader. Eric Humphries of Chowchilla is on top of the Hotwood standings with four races to go, and the top four drivers - Humphries, Anderson, Guibor and Ron Strmiska Jr. of Stockton - are within eight points.

Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or slinesbu@recordnet.com

Stockton 99
Speedway
Green flag: 6 p.m.
Divisions: Southwest Series; Western Late Model Hotwood 1,000; American Limited Stock Car; Pro 4 Truck.
Track information:
(209) 466-9999;
stockton99speedway.com

The Stockton 99 Speedway is located just off Highway 99 at 4105 North Wilson Way. If you are traveling south on Highway 99 take the Wilson Way exit. If you are heading north on Highway 99 take the Cherokee Road exit, loop over the freeway, turn right onto Newton Road and then turn left on Wilson Way.

Stockton 99 Speedway Info/Race Line (209) 466-9999.


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