Fighting for the prize
Local drivers racing toward Grand National West title
Record Staff Writer
Published Thursday, Aug 3, 2006
Holmes, left, and Mike David, longtime friends and rivals, are tied for the
Grand National West points standings heading into Saturday’s race at Stockton 99 Speedway.
The track is hosting its last Grand National West race.
Credit: Craig Sanders/The Record
STOCKTON - Eric Holmes and Mike David
understand they are the major players in a good story.
It's a tale about two friends and auto racers who are tied in their race for a prestigious title.
And the next chapter begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at the old quarter-mile oval they both call their home track.
Holmes and David are atop the NASCAR Grand National West standings going into the Dodge Country 200 on Saturday at Stockton 99 Speedway. Holmes lives in Escalon, David is from Modesto, and both drivers have fond memories of hanging around the track as kids watching their fathers race.
Now they are back for what will be the final Grand National race at Stockton 99, which is scheduled to close at the end of the season.
"I've been going out to Stockton since I was 3 or 4 (years old), and it's hard to think that this could be my last race out there," Holmes said. "It's certainly one race we both want to win for many reasons, but we have to concentrate on the race, not the emotions."
Holmes and David have also been dealing with other distractions, including an increase in media exposure.
"It's kind of surreal that Eric and I both come back to our home track one last time and we're tied for the lead," David said. "I understand all the attention. It's a heck of a story."
The Grand National West division began in 1954 and has been running at Stockton 99 since 1966. It is fourth in the NASCAR hierarchy behind the Nextel Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Trucks series.
"It's a prestigious title, and I think Mike and Eric know there's a lot of bragging rights at stake," said Eric Holmes' father, Steve Holmes. "I think they will both do well, and they've known each other a long time."
Mike David, 39, and Eric Holmes, 30, have become good friends over the years, and at times have discussed going into the automotive business together. Sometimes they'll stay in the same hotels and catch the same flights, and occasionally have dinner.
David owns a racing shop in Modesto, and
Holmes often stops by to buy parts and talk about racing.
"I won't say that we barbecue together, but we do hang out," David said. "We're good friends, and we have a lot in common."
They learned to love racing at Stockton 99.
Steve Holmes started competing at the track in 1976, and Norman David showed up a year later.
But while the sons are chasing a serious title, the fathers were just out for a good time.
"Steve and I raced for fun at 99 and it was more of a hobby," Norman David said. "It's different for our sons. Eric and Mike are more serious, and they are racing for this title. They are both very good."
They are tied with 1,189 points each, but Peyton Sellers of Danville, Va., is 12 points behind, and two other drivers are within 46 points of the lead. There are three races left after Saturday. The series finale is Oct. 15 at Altamont Motorsports Park.
"I really wish it was just Mike and I at the top, and that we didn't have to worry about anyone else," said Holmes, who also is third in the Southwest Series standings. "But there are plenty of talented drivers right there with us. I can't afford to worry about just beating Mike."
But the two friends hope this final Grand National showdown at Stockton 99 does come down to a duel between the local drivers. It seems like a proper ending to a good story.
"I really do hope that one of us wins it," Holmes said. "Preferably, it's me."
Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or email@example.com
TALE OF THE TRACK
Grand National West points: 1,189
Car: 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Crew chief: Ty Joiner
Grand National West points: 1,189
Car: 2004 Ford Taurus
Crew chief: Mario Isola
Green flag: 6 p.m. Saturday
Featured events: NASCAR Grand National Dodge Country 200; eighth round of the Hotwood 1,000 for Western Late Model division.
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.