A little trash talk between friends and the anticipation of being on their home track has helped alleviate some of the drama going into Saturday's Grand National West race at Stockton 99 Speedway.
Modesto's David edged Escalon's Holmes by inches to finish third in last week's race at Phoenix International Raceway.
"We were the only cars the other hit in both races," Holmes said of the season's opening events. "All four of us up front almost crashed."
Given a choice, Holmes would rather win the Elite Division Southwest Series title than the Grand National West championship. He prefers the engines and lighter cars in the Southwest Series.
This race will help decide if he continues putting time and money into pursuing the Grand National West championship or focuses solely on the Southwest tour, which is being discontinued after this season.
Holmes is third in Southwest points but trails two drivers — Ken Schrader and Matt Crafton — who aren't expected to race a full year, like he is.
If Holmes continues to do well and can pick up sponsorships, he said there is a possibility he would run both series. The schedules would allow it.
His decision may not get any easier in the Grand National West's next three events, which are at tracks Holmes races well at — Stockton, Irwindale and Infineon Raceway.
"It would be cool to win both or win one and be second or third in the other," Holmes said. "I'd at least like to get both cars in the Shootout (for each regional division's top 10 drivers). Nobody has done both, I don't think. We're in good-enough cars to run both of them."
Holmes finished second in the Southwest Series in 2003 and fourth in 2004. He has considerable experience at Stockton 99, but this will be his first Grand National West race at 99. He last won there in 2004 in a Southwest Series race.
David has the most top-10 finishes at Stockton among active drivers — six, including a victory in 2004.
Stockton's quarter-mile paved oval is less roomy than the one-mile speedway the drivers were on in Phoenix last week. The vast difference in tracks brings a change in driving style and increases the possibility of wrecks.
"I'm not too worried about it," David said. "We always run well there. There are more good drivers this year than there have been in the past."
Other drivers entered with Grand National West victories at Stockton 99 are Johnny Borneman, Austin Cameron, Mike Duncan and former Oakdale resident Steve Portenga.
Also on the schedule are the second Hot Wood 1,000 Western Late Model race and the American Limited Stock Car and Pro 4 Truck classes.
Ron Strmiska Jr. of Manteca won the first Hot Wood 1,000 race on April 9, benefitting from wrecks that knocked out race leaders Guy Guibor of Manteca and Pete Anderson Jr. of Stockton.