Kanke denies Holmes win, becomes series career leader
By KELLY JONES
BEE STAFF WRITER
Last Updated: July 16, 2006, 05:55:25 AM PDT
STOCKTON — Eric Holmes had a good opportunity to win the final Southwest Series race at Stockton 99 Speedway.
But Frazier Park's M.K. Kanke was just fast enough in a back-up car to deny the track favorite from Escalon.
Under a green-white-checkered finish, Kanke won his second consecutive race, and first at Stockton, to become the career victory leader in the Southwest Series.
Holmes finished second in the AutoZone 100 after starting sixth. He qualified with the second-fastest time, but started in the third row with an eight-car invert.
"Breaking the record is pretty important, especially here at Stockton," Kanke said. "I think I've finished second here three times. It was nice to get a win here. Now there's only one track I haven't won at."
In the 100-lap Western Late Model race, Stockton's Pete Anderson Jr. held off Chicago's Peter Hernandez in one of the closest finishes of the season.
Lathrop driver Mark Henslee extended his points lead in the Pro-4 Truck division by sweeping the evening's events.
American Limited Stock Car leader Chad Holman of Stockton won the time-shortened main event, denying Stockton's Donnie Darter his third straight sweep.
Holmes was hoping to catch Kanke right at the finish line of the Southwest race. A caution flag in lap 93 slowed the cars, but 10 laps were counted as the track was cleared. Holmes envisioned catching Kanke at the last second, smoking tires and piling up after they crossed the finish line.
But when racing resumed in lap 103, Holmes said Kanke "brake-checked" to keep him from getting a good jump. Holmes was also tapped from behind by Eddy McKean, and was unable to get past Kanke.
"I respect Mike a ton," Holmes said of Kanke. "I would have roughed him up a little bit to win this race, but I never would have spun him out."
Kanke won his 22nd race in the last time the regional tour races at Stockton. After winning at Altamont Motorsports Park on July 2, that leaves Phoenix International Speedway as the only track Kanke hasn't won at.
Everyone in the pits had a good laugh when Holmes arrived Saturday morning wearing a Rip Michels T-shirt. Michels made contact with Holmes in the July 2 race at Altamont Motorsports Park which sent Holmes into the wall.
Holmes was leading the race, and the points standings, before the crash ended his night. A friend of Holmes is a neighbor of Michels, and sent Holmes a T-shirt as a joke.
"I did it just to ease the situation a little bit," Holmes said of donning the top.
The gesture was appreciated by Michels and the rest of the Southwest field, who know how bitter losing a points lead can be, especially going into a driver's home track.
"I thought it was pretty cool," Michels said. "I gotta give him credit for having a sense of humor. I wish I had enough foresight to wear a Holmes shirt."
The drivers were the two fastest at Stockton on Saturday, and lined up next to each other in the fourth row due to an eight-car invert. Michels won the pole with a fast time of 13.691 seconds.
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.