2008 Local Track Articles
No win, but Holmes takes points lead with second
Record Staff Writer
June 22, 2008 6:00 AM
SONOMA - Eric Holmes came within about four feet of finally winning at Infineon Raceway. But he wasn't upset or angry after the race.
He was actually quite pleased when he left Sonoma as the NASCAR Camping World West Series points leader.
Jason Bowles held off Holmes during a dramatic two-lap overtime restart to win the crash-filled, caution flag-infested Bennett Lane Winery 200 on Saturday at Infineon.
Holmes' second-place finish was good enough to give the Escalon driver a two-point lead over Mike David of Modesto in the CWWS title chase.
Holmes has finished second twice in 10 races on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course at Infineon, and it was the second time he started from the pole position. He calls it the one track he most wants to conquer, but this time, second was more than good enough.
"Of course I wanted to win this race, but the No. 1 goal is to win a championship," Holmes said. "I'm satisfied. I gave it everything I had at the end. The main thing was to get a good finish."
Infineon sometimes looked more like a junkyard than a race track as crashes caused 12 caution flags to fly and two red-flag stoppages. Holmes led the first 10 laps, stayed near the front of the field most of the day and avoided the mess.
The scariest accident came on the next-to-last lap when the car of Jeff Jefferson flipped over three times in turn No. 17. Jefferson was not injured, but the crash caused the event to extend from 64 to 68 laps so the crew could clean up the accident and set up a two-lap shootout.
Holmes was in second and twice tried to shoot under Bowles in the final turn to take the lead, but the racer from Ontario was able to hold him off and beat Holmes to the finish line by about four feet.
"I was worried. Every time a yellow came out, I was like, 'Oh, man,' " Bowles said. "But I knew (Holmes) was going to race me clean, and I'll return the favor some day."
Bowles, Holmes and third-place finisher Jim Inglebright of Fairfield gambled and never changed tires during the race. Others changed tires and various car parts as the crashes piled up.
"The race was a joke with all the yellows," said veteran Sprint Cup driver Ken Schrader, who was fifth.
David was running as high as fourth before he was taken out by teammate P.J. Jones on the 50th lap. He finished ninth and trails Holmes 971-969 in the standings.
"I'm real disappointed; we had a good top five going and there wasn't a scratch on the car before it happened," David said.
Two local drivers managed to avoid all the trouble and finished well in front of their starting positions. Travis McCullough of Galt started in 36th place and finished 18th, and Ryan Philpott of Tracy moved up from 35th to 23rd in his first attempt at running on a road course.
"The main goal was to finish," Philpott said. "We didn't expect to set the world on fire. We're satisfied."
McCullough said it was tough on a day with the temperatures in the 90s, especially since there were so many delays.
"It was very hot in the car, and I felt physically ill at the end of the race," McCullough said. "This is more of an attrition race out here, and we were just trying to race to the end."