Holmes Wins Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100
Two-time series champ rebounds after rough start
Photo: Mike Finnegan
From NASCAR Release Eric Holmes came to Phoenix International Raceway looking for a good points day after a rough start to his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season. He certainly accomplished his goal Thursday with a win in the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100. Holmes outlasted runner-up Jason Bowles and third-place Greg Pursley to collect his 10th career series win in a race that ended under caution following one attempt at a green-white-checkered. Jonathon Gomez and David Mayhew rounded out the top five. Mayhew was second when the final caution came out, but came down pit road instead of taking the checkered flag on the track. The win was a long-time coming for Holmes, who has twice finished runner-up at Phoenix (2006 and 2009) and ran out of gas after dominating the first half of the 2008 race. "I've been wanting to win a race here for quite some time," said the two-time series champion from Escalon, Calif. "We had a good car all day. I just save it for the end. The team did a great job on the last pit stop making the call. We had some great restarts at the end and got us the win." Holmes and his Bill McAnally Racing team altered their strategy during the race - opting to pit for fresh right-side tires on the No. 20 NAPA Toyota midway through the event in order to chase down NASCAR K&N Pro Series East regular Brett Moffitt, who led a race-high 36 laps. "Moffitt was faster than us at the beginning of the race," Holmes said. "So, we made the decision to go ahead and change tires. Originally, we weren't going to change tires, but we figured that was the only way we could beat him. I was a little nervous starting back there in the pack, but I got through that good." Moffitt, meanwhile, was knocked out of the lead on Lap 89 after contact with second-place Greg Pursley. "Those guys were racing hard and got together and it got us back to second and we got a great restart," Holmes said. "We thought we had it won, but got another caution for a green-white-checkered. I got a good start and I think he (Mayhew) spun his tires." In that final restart, Holmes opted to restart in the outside lane - something that was not an easy decision for him. "I complained all last year that we needed to be able to make that choice, because certain tracks we go to, the outside is definitely the way to go," he said. "Well, I had to make that decision tonight. I had beat Pursley on the outside. So, I knew I was better on the outside and I could control the race better. Sitting under that red for 10 minutes making that decision, I wanted to throw up. That's not my style. Usually, I'm pretty calm. I made the decision and went with it. I took the chance and it paid off." Holmes had arrived at Phoenix looking to get his season on track after he broke an axle and finished 20th in the season opener on March 27. "We needed it bad," he said of the Phoenix win. "We had a bad day at Roseville. We came here to win the race and get the most points and we did that. So, now we'll move on to the next race and try to do the same thing." The win also clinched Holmes a spot in the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Daryl Harr, Stan Silva Jr., Todd Souza, Taylor Barton and series rookie Michael Self rounded out the top 10. Moffitt rallied to finish 11th. Andrew Myers won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in qualifying, but had his day cut short on Lap 48 after cutting a tire. The last yellow flag came out for a multi-car wreck on the front stretch on the restart. The race was slowed by 10 caution periods, including two red flags. There were eight lead changes among six drivers. Holmes led twice for 17 laps, including the final 12 after taking the lead on a restart from Pursley. The race will air on SPEED on Thursday, April 22 at 6 p.m. ET. Pursley and Mayhew have taken an early lead in the championship standings. They each have 320 points. They are followed by Holmes and Josh Combs, each with 288; Todd Souza with 276; Taylor Barton with 268, Luis Martinez Jr. with 267; Paulie Harraka with 266; Self with 260 and Jonathon Gomez with 259, unofficially. Tickets for this weekend's NASCAR action at Phoenix International Raceway can be purchased online at PhoenixRaceway.com or by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223).