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Escalon driver races to seventh NASCAR victory
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Escalon’s Eric Holmes took full advantage of some home cooking as he drove his Bill McAnally-owned NAPA Toyota Camry to a commanding win in last Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Series West Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 before a sold-out crowd at All-American Speedway in Roseville.

Holmes shot to an early lead and never looked back en route scoring his seventh career win in the series and moving atop the 2009 West Series championship standings.

“I had an excellent car,” Holmes said. “Last lap finishes like Texas are a lot of fun, but these are more fun for my team, to have such a dominant car. It was an easy car to drive.”

After starting third on the grid, Holmes darted to the inside of pole sitter Jason Bowles, of Ontario, on the second lap.

Holmes was on cruise control from there, pulling away from the rest of the pack and slicing his way through lapped traffic like a Ginsu knife around the tight third-mile oval for a 2.58 seconds victory over Bowles and $8,100 in prize money.

“I got by Jason early. He got really loose off of turn 2 and that made it real easy,” explained Holmes, the defending series champion. “My plan was to go to the front as quick as I could. Starting third, you just never know what will happen. I knew it was important to lead laps.”

The victory lifted Holmes into the series lead with 360 points, 25 ahead of Greg Pursley of Newhall. Modesto’s Mike David, the 2007 series champion, finished the race in seventh and now sits sixth in the points with 297.

The NASCAR Camping World Series West now heads to Phoenix International Raceway on April 16 as part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup program before returning to Madera Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150, presented by Exclusive Energy Drink, on Saturday, April 25.

Madera Speedway

There will be plenty of action at the local tracks this Easter weekend.

Madera Speedway will be hosting round 1 of the 2009 “HotWood 333” Series for the Whelen All American Western Late Models.

A total of $21,000 in bonus prize money will be awarded for this special three race series that will also run on Aug. 1 and Sept. 26 at Madera.

Last season, second-generation driver Kyle Gottula, of Modesto, won the HotWood series by a single point over third generation driver Ross Strmiska of Stockton. With sponsorship becoming increasingly difficult to find due to the recession, Gottula was especially appreciative the extra cash he received for winning the series last year. “Winning the HotWood championship was really a big deal for us. It is a real prestigious title to get,” explained Gottula, who has already posted two late model wins in 2009. “The prize money helped us a ton. Without it I don’t know if we could have run the early races this year.”

This Saturday’s Madera program will also include the Grand American Modifieds in twin 40-lap features, the American Limited Stocks, Modified Super Toyotas, Toyota Sedans plus a Destruction Derby right on the front straight.

Stockton 99

Ross Strmiska will be looking for his third win of the season this Saturday after winning the first half of last Saturday’s Western Late Model twin bill at the Stockton 99 Speedway. Stockton’s Vito Ranuio picked up his career first win in the second race and Turlock’s Wes Miller won the Grand American Modified feature.

The late models will be running in a 99-lap feature this Saturday at Stockton along with the Street Stocks, Bombers and 4-Cylinder divisions.

Merced Speedway will also be hot this Saturday with a program that features the IMCA Modifieds and an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

Scott Speed update

Manteca’s Scott Speed failed to qualify the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday and fell to 38th in both the driver and owner point standings. He now sits 96 points in back of the magic 35th position in the owner standings, which guarantees a driver a spot in the race field regardless of how he qualifies.

The NASCAR system creates somewhat of a death spiral in that drivers such as Speed must now concentrate most of their limited practice time to honing their qualifying setup just to make the starting field for the next race and by doing so lessening their chances to do well in the race even if they do make it.

Speed will be trying to right the ship when the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule resumes in Phoenix for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 on April 18.

To contact Dale Bosowski, e-mail