Eric Holmes is slowly climbing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings. After winning the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore., on Saturday night, Holmes nearly cut the lead of David Mayhew in half.
Eric Holmes wins Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 at Douglas County Speedway
Eric Holmes is Second in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West points
Holmes and Mayhew battled throughout the race at Roseburg. Mayhew won the pole and led the first 52 laps of the race. Holmes squeezed past Mayhew on lap 53 and led the rest of the way.
The race ended with a 15-lap shootout that bunched up the field after a red flag. Mike Self's car, which was running in fourth place at the time, blew its engine and dumped oil around the track during a yellow caution period. The race was stopped as track safety crews cleaned up the oil. When the race resumed, Holmes was in the lead, but Mayhew was right next to him. Holmes nudged out in front and slowly pulled away in the closing laps of the race.
"That was tough," Holmes said. "There was dry sweep all around the track. The track was already slick. Going into turn 3, I didn't know what to expect. David and I got together a little bit. I just had to patient and hold my line, run my line, run my line and not make a mistake. That's all I did the last 15 laps: Be patient and not make a mistake."
The real action took place behind Mayhew and Holmes. Blake Koch weaved his way past Paulie Harraka for third place after the final restart.
"We knew we had one last chance to gain a position," said Koch, who posted his career-best finish in the West Series. "We qualified fourth and we lined up fourth with about 15 to go and Paulie's a tough racer. I knew I had to take advantage of any little thing I could. I was following the 17 of David Mayhew and he got a good restart. I sucked up to his bumper and we got him there on the restart. He ran me clean. I'm very happy that he did that and I appreciate it."
Moses Smith managed a late surge and passed Harraka on the final lap to take away fourth place.
Harraka crossed the finish line in fifth. He was followed by Greg Pursley, rookies Todd Souza, Troy Ermish and Justin Funkhouser. Jonathon Gomez rounded out the top 10.
For Holmes, it was his third West Series win in a row at Douglas County Speedway. It was also his second win of the season. He won the race at Phoenix International Raceway in April.
"It's a track that fits my driving style," Holmes said about the Douglas County Speedway .375-mile oval. "You have to be patient and aggressive at the same time. Use your head the whole race and it just fits into my driving style. Definitely tonight was the toughest one. Mayhew gave me a run for my money and the crew did a great job preparing the car. We had a great car the whole race."
Bill McAnally Racing has won seven of the past nine West Series races at Douglas County Speedway, including the most recent on Saturday night.
"The boss, Bill McAnally, this is the first race he ever promoted," Holmes said. "The first time I ever drove for him was in this race. I've always had incentive to come out and win this race. We have NAPA and Toyota and all our sponsors support this race. We supposed to win it. There's a little added pressure to come here and win."
Mayhew has four top-five finishes in four West Series race this year. He leads the West Series standings by 42 points over Holmes, a two-time West Series champion.
"The points lead is important to us," Mayhew said. "It's real early in the season. These short tracks, we know Eric's going to be tough. We feel like we have a little bit better program on the road course stuff. All the others are kind of a toss up. We really just need to put our heads down and if we can't win the thing, finishing second's the next best thing. As long as we can keep doing that and reel off some wins on a couple road course races, we'll see what happens."
Pursley is third in the West Series standings, 103 points out of first.
Gomez is fourth in the West Series standings followed by rookie Josh Combs in fifth.
The next West Series race is at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on June 19.
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