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Holmes cruises to an easy win

POSTED June 27, 2009 4:01 p.m.
Last season, after incurring a flat tire, Escalon’s Eric Holmes was somehow able to claw his way back through the field to earn a hard fought, come-from-behind victory on the tight confines of the .375-mile bullring at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore. This year the defending NASCAR Camping World Series West champion followed a much easier path by jumping out in front and staying there for all 150 laps to win the June 6 Toyota/Bi-Mart 150 presented by NAPA.
It was the fourth straight victory and sixth out of the last eight events in Roseburg that Holmes’ Bill McAnally Racing team has posted since 2002.
“There’s always a lot of pressure when you come here,” Holmes said, “but I love the pressure and winning in front of these great Oregon fans. It makes the whole team get up and try harder and it’s just great to bring the NAPA Toyota Camry home in Victory Lane tonight.”
Holmes’ third win of the season (and ninth of his career) increased his series points lead to 36 points over Ontario’s Jason Bowles, who finished second. Modesto’s Mike David, the 2007 series champion, rallied from a pit stop that put him a lap down, to finish fourth.
Holmes later confided that his win on Saturday was not nearly as easy as it may have looked.
“Last year the car was so dominant and I could do anything I wanted, but this year I had to be really patient,” he said. “After a few quick cautions, I don’t know if I started overdriving the car, but it started going away. I just got my composure back, and the car was fast at the end when it counted.”
With the win Holmes was able to extend his lead over Bowles in the points standings to a margin of 1025-989. David Mayhew sits in third at 961 and Mike David follows him with 942.
The NASCAR Camping World Series West will race next at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma on June 20 as part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend.
Today’s Bennett Lane Winery 200 at Infineon will once again be one of the highlight events on the Camping World West schedule. Up to 40 cars are expected to be taking on the winding 1.99 mile, 11-turn road course including road racing specialists Boris Said and rookie Joey Lagano, who replaced Tony Stewart in the #20 Home Depot car of Joe Gibbs racing this season.
Former two-time track champion David Philpott wrestled the lead from 2007 Madera track champion Mark Holeman, of Los Altos, on the opening lap of the first of two 50-lap features for the Western Late Models and never looked back to pick up the win at the New Stockton 99 Speedway last Saturday night.
The battle for the 2009 championship heated up a notch or two when points leaders Vito Ranuio of Stockton and Justin Philpott, the son of David  Philpott, tangled with just one lap to go. After trailing him for much of the race, Ranuio got into the back of the younger Philpott sending him into the turn two wall and causing the checkered/yellow flying.    
Ranuio grabbed the early lead in the second half of the late model double dip only to hit the wall after colliding with 22 year-old NASCAR Drive for Diversity driver Katie Hagar, of Sacramento, on lap 17. The elder Philpott reaped the harvest of their misfortune by taking over the lead and holding on for his second win of the night and fourth of the season.
“I wrecked this car last week, I have to put all my heart to my father who worked sixty, seventy hours to get this car ready for me tonight,” said Philpott, who turned 49 on Saturday. “And Kyle Busch, you don’t have nothing on me because I won on my birthday too!”
Unlike Busch, Philpott did not celebrate his win Pete Townshend style by smashing his winner’s trophy in victory lane.
Ranuio, meanwhile,  wanted to smash something himself after he was ordered to park his car for the night by officials for rough driving when he got into the rear bumper of Lodi’s Michael Wendt on lap 26. He now holds only a 629 to 611 lead over Justin Philpott in the points.
In Madera last Saturday, Stockton’s Ross Strmiska held off Modesto’s Kyle Gottula in the 50-lap Western late Model feature last Saturday to pick up his third consecutive win and fifth overall this season. He now trails Gottula in the battle for the Madera track championship by a mere 205 to 192 margin.
The Western Late Models will again lead the program in Stockton today, while the fire breathing SMRA Supermodifieds are at the top bill of an open-wheel program at Madera.

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