Escalon's Eric Holmes made a valiant dash for the front in the late going of Saturday's Pick-N-Pull 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Stockton 99 Speedway, but was ultimately forced to settle for a hard earned second place finish behind young gun Dylan Kwasniewski.
Kwasniewski, in the No. 03 Rockstar/Royal Purple Ford, started from the pole and dominated the 24-car field throughout the night, going wire-to-wire, to pick up the victory over Holmes.
"The car was absolutely perfect. It was great race and I had a blast," said the 16-year-old, second-year driver from Las Vegas. "We were able to get through all the lapped traffic and avoid any incidents."
Holmes started the race, scheduled for 150 laps, from the 4th position and patiently stalked the leaders until he was finally able to sneak around Cameron Hayley, of Calgary, Canada, on lap 40 to take over the third spot.
Holmes, driving the No. 20 Napa Auto Parts Toyota, was hot on the tail of second place car Greg Pursley of Newhall when a couple of back markers spun going into turn #1 on lap 60. Kwasniewski and Pursley were able to slip through, but Holmes was forced to a halt in order to avoid a serious collision and ended up in 7th when he finally got around the pile up.
Holmes spent the next 80 plus laps playing catch up, but was only able to get back to 4th behind Kwasniewski, Pursley and David Mayhew of Atascadero with only hand full of laps remaining. A caution with less than 10 laps to go closed the pack up and allowed Holmes to duck under Mayhew on lap 144 and then steam around Pursley a lap later while Kwasniewski pulled away from everybody.
Another yellow caution on lap 147 sent the race into a green-white-checkered overtime, giving Holmes one last crack at Kwasniewski.
When the race resumed on lap 154 Kwasniewski quickly pulled away from Holmes, crossing the finish line with a margin of victory of .490 seconds. Mayhew held on for third ahead of Pursley and Wilton's Jason Fensler came home fifth.
"I am proud of my team, they gave me another great car tonight," said a disappointed Holmes. "We were cruising at the beginning, but I had to drive hard to get back up there and I just didn't have enough for Dylan at the end. He had a great car."
For Kwasniewski, who was making his first ever start on the high-banked Stockton quarter mile, it was his first win of the season and third of his career.
"Geez, I hated to see that last yellow. I was so nervous," admitted Kwasniewski. "Eric Holmes had a chance to take me out and drive me rough, but he's a great driver and I'm glad he did it respectively."
Kwasniewski became the fourth different driver to pick up a victory in four races this season and he took over the lead in the K&N West Series championship standings. He leads with 173 points over Mayhew (167). Pursley sits at 162 points, and Holmes, who is attempting to win his fourth season championship, now has 160.
The Pick-N-Pull 150 will air on SPEED on May 17 at 3 p.m. ET.
In other action at the 99 Speedway on Saturday, Turlock's Wes Miller suffered a mechanical failure in the early going of the Modified feature and watched from the pits as Tracy's Scott Winters took the checkered flag. Miller, the defending track champion in the Modified class, had swept to victory in both halves of a twin bill for the Modifieds on April 29.