Escalon racer Holmes set for Sonoma

June 26, 2013 

Escalon stock car driver Eric Holmes, 2008 mug, Camping World Series West tour

TODD WARSHAW — Getty Images for NASCAR

Escalon stock car driver Eric Holmes has accumulated 17 victories racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Those wins have come at 10 different tracks.

One of the venues the three-time series champion has yet to win at, however, is Sonoma Raceway. He's come close, oh-so-close, but has yet to take the traditional sip of wine from the winner's goblet in Victory Lane.

Holmes has finished in the top five in five of seven starts on the twisting 1.99-mile road course. In 2008, he finished second there after winning the pole. Last year, he was running out front when he encountered engine trouble.

Holmes, who wheels the No. 16 NAPA Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing, will get another chance at the elusive victory when the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returns to Sonoma for the Carneros 200 on Saturday.

"It's been my favorite race to go to every year," Holmes said. "We've had awesome cars. Nevertheless, he has yet to get the win there.

"Last year was probably the most disappointing. I really thought we had that race won. We had a 14-second lead and cruising and had an engine problem. That was a bummer there."

Circumstances this year, meanwhile, provide Holmes with a different perspective on the race.

"I'm looking forward to this year because I'm not in a championship battle," said Holmes, who only ran three of the first five races this season.

"It seems like every year we've had to be a little conservative, because there are so many points to lose at that race. We just go for a good finish. This year we can go for the win and not worry about the points. I'm really looking forward to that."

Michael Self leads the standings with 212 points, one more than Derek Thorn at 211. Defending series champion Greg Pursley (201) is fourth, behind Cameron Hayley (204).

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West has a long history at Sonoma and Holmes puts extra emphasis on winning there. This is the 25th year NASCAR has come to Sonoma. Holmes said he has been to every race, as a fan or driver.

"It would mean a lot," Holmes said, in regard to winning at Sonoma. "You always want to win the big races. I'm proud of all my accomplishments and wins that I've had, but I would have to say that one disappointment I have is not winning there."

There are two practice sessions Friday and qualifying is Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Race time is 1 p.m.

For ticket information visit www.racesonoma.com or call 800-870-RACE.

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