DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — - The 2010 season featured another exciting year of competition in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, with a career-best performance by Eric Holmes leading to his third series championship.
"Holmes headed into the season finale at Phoenix, knowing that with a 156-point lead he just had to take the green flag to clinch the championship. "
Holmes was looking to add to the championships he won in 2006 and 2008. To get that third trophy, however, he would have to get past some strong competition, as well as overcome a speed-bump of his own.
That first obstacle was a broken axle that relegated Holmes to a 20th-place finish in the season opener at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. His teammate at Bill McAnally Racing, Paulie Harraka, dominated the Roseville event – capturing the Coors Light Pole Award and winning his second straight race at his home track.
Holmes, meanwhile, quickly rebounded with a major victory in April – winning at Phoenix International Raceway for the first time in his career. The race also featured the return of 2009 series champion Jason Bowles, who finished second. Bowles, who had moved to North Carolina after winning his title, went on to run in three series races during the season. Greg Pursley was third, followed by Jonathon Gomez and David Mayhew.
As he had done the year before, Mayhew led the way among teams from the West Coast in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway in May. Mayhew won the overall pole award and then took fifth in the race, credited with a win as the top finishing West driver. The victory propelled him into the lead in the championship standings. Holmes – who had encountered problems in previous visits to Iowa – finished 10th overall, third among West drivers.
Holmes kept his momentum going when the series traveled in June to Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore., in June – winning the event for a third consecutive year. Mayhew stayed close, winning the pole and finishing second.
The annual visit to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., in June featured a first-time winner, as two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Andrew Ranger took the victory. Holmes was able to avoid some of the trouble his competition encountered on the 1.99-mile road course and take over the lead in the point standings with a fourth-place finish. His BMR teammates, Paulie Harraka and Brandon Davis, finished second and third, respectively. A strong run by Bowles, who had won the pole, came up empty when he ran out of fuel short of the finish.
Another first-time winner went to Victory Lane in July when the series visited Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.), with Auggie Vidovich taking the win. Although Holmes finished a lap down to the leader, he was able to retain his points lead, as some of his chief rivals for the title were sidelined and did not finish.
At the midway point of the year, Holmes held a 64-point lead over Mayhew in the championship standings. Gomez was third, followed by Moses Smith and Harraka. As the series headed into the second half of the season, Holmes began to build on his points lead and steadily pulled away from his competition.
Patrick Long took the win on the road course at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway in late July. Holmes finished second, followed by Harraka. Mayhew, who won the pole, was fourth.
The series made its inaugural visit to Montana Raceway Park in Kalispell, Mont., in August. Action on the tight quarter-mile oval kept fans on the edge of their seats, as the event opened with more than 100 straight laps of green flag action that featured three-wide racing at times. While Holmes captured his third win of the year, he was not able to extend his points lead by much – as Mayhew led the most laps and finished second.
Holmes kept things rolling a week later with a win at Colorado National Speedway">Colorado National Speedway near Denver. Harraka finished second, followed by rookie Luis Martinez Jr">Luis Martinez Jr., who had won his first career pole in qualifying.
At Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah in September, Pursley battled back from a pit mistake to take the victory. Eric Curran overcame a flat tire early in the event to take second, followed by Harraka and Smith. Chances for a repeat win by Long on the massive road course were derailed by a flat tire late in the event. A sixth-place finish by Holmes allowed him to extend his points lead over Mayhew, who could only salvage a 15th-place after also having a flat tire.
With a return to All American Speedway in Roseville in October, Holmes scored his third victory in four races. Although Holmes won, Mayhew again shadowed him across the finish line. Eric Schmidt was third, followed by Harraka and Juan Pitta, who was making his series debut.
Holmes headed into the season finale at Phoenix, knowing that with a 156-point lead he just had to take the green flag to clinch the championship. Pursley, meanwhile, was looking to continue his late-season charge and get the results that had eluded him several times during the year. Both were successful. Pursley won the pole and won the race, although he had to battle his way through the pack.
Holmes appeared in a position to battle for the win – but after slight damage to his car altered the handling, he opted to play it safe and come away with a 15th-place finish and the title. Mayhew also ran up front and appeared he would contend for the win, but faded to seventh in the final laps.
Final Notes On The 2010 Season
Holmes third championship … A 15-place finish in the season finale at Phoenix International Raceway provided Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Toyota) with a 123-point margin in the final point standings as he took home his third championship in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. The 36-year-old Escalon, Calif., competitor also won the title in 2006 and 2008. Five wins this season boosted Holmes’ total series victories to 14 and put him in a tie with Dick Bown for 12th on the list of career series wins.
Martinez takes rookie title … Luis Martinez Jr. (No. 6 King Taco/Sunrise Ford/ Lucas Oil Ford) topped a talented freshman class to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award for 2010. The 20-year-old driver from Long Beach, Calif., was the highest finishing rookie in five of 12 races this season, driving for car owner Bob Bruncati. Jason Bowles won the rookie title in 2007, while driving for Bruncati, and then went on to win the 2009 championship.
Coors Light Pole Award … David Mayhew (No. 17 MMI Services/Ron’s Rear Ends/KHI Chevrolet) and Greg Pursley (No. 26 GPM Performance Parts/Star Nursery Ford) each won three Coors Light Pole Awards this year. By virtue of his higher finish in the championship standings, Mayhew took the year-end award for 2010.
Eight different pole winners … Eight different drivers won a Coors Light Pole Award this season. In addition to David Mayhew and Greg Pursley, with three poles each, other pole winners in 2010 included Eric Holmes, Jason Bowles, Luis Martinez Jr., Paulie Harraka, Patrick Long and Andrew Myers.
Seven different race winners … In addition to Eric Holmes, six other drivers visited Victory Lane in 2010. Greg Pursley was the only other driver with multiple victories, winning two of the final three events. Other winners this season included David Mayhew, Paulie Harraka, Patrick Long, Andrew Ranger and Auggie Vidovich.
Big bonus for Holmes … In addition to winning the 2010 series championship, Eric Holmes also collected a $10,000 bonus for winning three of five events in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge this season. He won Bonus Challenge events at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore.; Montana Raceway Park in Kalispell, Mont.; and Colorado National Speedway near Denver.