Local drivers play nice off track

Holmes, David are serious contenders at Roseville race

April 2, 2009 

  • IF YOU GO

    WHAT: NASCAR Camping World West series' Toyota/NAPA 150

    WHERE: All-American Speedway, Roseville

    WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m.


Trashing each other in radio interviews is fun for stock car drivers Eric Holmes, Mike David and Jason Bowles. The ribbing helps keep the mood light.

But come Saturday at Roseville's All-American Speedway, it will be all business between the three. They'll be among the favorites in the NASCAR Toyota/NAPA 150 — the second race in the Camping World West Series.

Holmes, the defending champion from Escalon, has done four radio interviews this week to promote the race.He prepared Bowles on Thursday for the "fighting words" the Ontario driver would be hearing in subsequent interviews.

"It's all for the pure entertainment," Bowles said.

Modesto's David laughed at that description, adding that it made the tour sound like World Wrestling Entertainment.

Racing and wrestling are similar in physical power and the emotions they generate. All three drivers were racing out front in last season's series finale at Roseville when Bowles helped Holmes get sideways with three laps left.

Bowles won, but was lustily booed. David was second and Holmes recovered for fifth.

"You don't want to lead the last lap," David joked. "I'm going for second! I'm only teasing. You want to win, even if you only lead the last lap."

Unlike the Sprint Cup series where drivers can rack up points for laps led, Holmes said there aren't enough races on the Camping World series — just 13 — to use that strategy.

Leading laps helps, but winning is the key. A victory Saturday could vault either local driver into the points lead. Holmes is tied for second with Moses Smith (170) behind Greg Pursely (185). David is seventh with 151 points.

Holmes and David often engage in good-natured banter, hinting one will spin the other or push the other into the wall. Holmes said NASCAR encourages the make-believe drama before the real thing.

Fans eat it up. Despite cold, rainy weather at the series opener at Kyle, Texas, on March 14, Holmes said the grandstands were full.

The promise of free oil changes won't hurt Saturday. Holmes won the first of two events at the Roseville track last season, resulting in 900 of the 4,200 on hand redeeming their tickets for free oil changes courtesy of the race's sponsor. The offer is also valid this weekend.

David hopes to return to 2007 championship form with new crew chief Robert Strmiska, a Manteca native and Holmes' roommate.

Strmiska has worked with tour drivers Jason Patison and 2003 champion Scott Lynch.

For more information call (916) 676-0256 or visit www.allamericanspeedway.com

The New Stockton 99 Speedway

Tracy's Justin Philpott will try to make it two in a row at the ¼-mile track where his father won the first of his two titles 17 years ago. The younger Philpott, a 2008 Tracy High graduate, won his first Western Late Model main at Stockton last week. Saturday he'll get two chances with the WLM Twin 50s. The card also includes Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks and Bombers. Call 466-9999 of visit www.stockton99.com.

Madera Speedway

The ª-mile track is hosting the first of six Super Saturday open-wheel events this weekend. Featured are the Supermodified Racing Association 410 Supermodifieds and Madera's 360 Modifieds in a combined 50-lap feature. Also racing will be the United States Auto Club Sprint Cars, USAC/Bay Area Racing Association Midgets, Legends of the Pacific, NCMA Sprint Cars and Western Racing Association Vintage Cars. Dinuba's Troy Reiger and former IRL star Davey Hamilton are among those expected to race. Call (559) 673-7223 or visit www.racemadera.com.

Infineon Raceway

Fans of two-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will be interested in Infineon Raceway's "48 Special" ticket package for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 21. Infineon Raceway has tagged 480 seats in Turn 7 to be sold for $48.48, a discount of 50 percent, for the Father's Day race. The ticket includes a "chalk-talk" session with Johnson on April 16. Get tickets at 8000-870-7223 or visit www.infineonraceway.com. ...

Infineon Raceway is introducing its Little Racers Club for kids 12 and under. For $15, young fans get an official membership card, weekend ticket to the Toyota/Save Mart 350, free tickets to other track events, a ticket to a Sacramento River Cats baseball game, monthly online newsletter, birthday cards and other perks. Visit www.infienonraceway.com/littleracers for more information.

Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached at kjones@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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