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Allstate Texas Thunder 200 race report


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Traffic Havoc Helps Holmes get First Ever AutoZone West Series Win

 

by JM Hallas

 

Lap traffic played the part of spoilers as the Eric Holmes and Mike David battled for the victory in the Allstate Texas Thunder 200. Holmes and David made contact while scrapping it out three wide around a lap car on the final lap. David, who was leading on lap 199, got the worst of the deal as he spun, while Holmes was taking the checkers.

 

As the green waved on the Allstate Texas Thunder 200, David and Duncan stayed side by side through turns 1-2 and down the back stretch. David was first back to the line to lead lap 1 with Duncan falling into second, Holmes third, Peyton Sellers fourth and Portenga fifth. Duncan put a little tap on David on lap 4 coming out of turn 2. The tap caused Duncan to lose momentum giving Holmes a chance to get a run on Duncan and grab second on lap 6.

The leaders ran up on lap traffic, an omen of things to come, during lap 7 giving David and Holmes some space on the rest of the pack. The lead duo built a three car lead over Duncan, P. Sellers and Portenga. Holmes turned up the heat on David getting the nose inside on lap 15. Holmes again ducked inside on lap 16, but was unable to get the pass made.

 

The first yellow waved on lap 27 for Bruce Betts who spun off turn 2 into the dirt. On the side by side restart, Holmes hung with David on the high side while P. Sellers got by Duncan for third. Lap 37 saw P. Sellers and Duncan side by side for third as the top five in points all ran in the top five positions

 

Lap 42 saw caution wave again after Tim Woods III rubbed Jim Inglebright in a pass for position. Inglebright, unhappy with the bankshot pass got into the back of Woods who spun in turn 2. Inglebright was about to be black flagged when he pitted for repairs anyway and went a lap down.

 

On the restart, David and P. Sellers were still side by side with P. Sellers on the high side. P. Sellers got the nose ahead to lead laps 49-50. David fought back on the bottom and retook the top spot on lap 51. P. Sellers tried to get the point back but Holmes got inside to take away second on lap 53.

 

David and Holmes then started to pull away with Holmes taking an occasional look on the low side. Holmes finally got nose under David with the duo door to door. Holmes got the lead on lap 60 and was beginning to inch ahead when yellow came out for a spin Andrew Myers who was losing fluid due to overheating.

 

Once back to green it was David on the high side leading at the line for lap 73, but Holmes had the better groove and got back front on lap 74. Holmes got some breathing room getting a two car length margin on David. Duncan, who had lost several spots began to move forward getting by Portenga on lap 77 for fourth.

 

The top three of Holmes, David and P. Sellers got away from Duncan who had a good margin to Portenga, Austin Cameron, and Woods. Brian Ickler looped his ride on lap 86 in front of the group battling for tenth to slow the pace again. The lead stayed tied at the door posts with David again leading one lap(91) before Holmes regained control.

 

P. Sellers saw his top three run come to an end just before the halfway break when he spun and collected Woods, Inglebright and Jack Sellers. Everyone continued on but P. Sellers, Inglebright and J. Sellers were badly wounded. Hoping for the break they three stayed on track despite warnings from NASCAR officials to pit. That move would cost all of them a five lap penalty.

 

David led lap 99 on the restart, but was back to second on lap 100, with the yellow/red out for the halfway break. During the pit stops crews were able to make adjustments and change tires for the final half of the race.

 

Holmes was able to get away from David this time as the green was shown, while Duncan and Portenga ran side by side for third. On lap 105 the top six were still running together, though Cameron was beginning to lose touch with lead quintet by lap 110. Holmes and David, still showing they were in a class of their own begin to creep away from Portenga and Duncan. Eric Hardin did a half spin on lap 114, took a trip through the infield grass, but was able to continue on without caution.

 

Duncan tried the high side of Portenga on lap 116, but was unable to get by. David tried a similar move on Holmes a lap later, with the same results. The top two were nose to tail on lap 120 with a small gap to Portenga, Duncan and Woods, who had a larger gap to Cameron and Justin Lofton. Multiple incidents brought out yellow on lap 124. Portenga spun in turn 4 after a nudge from Duncan, Lofton slid off the track in turn 3 and a cone found its way to the track in turn 2.

 

David, on the high side got around Holmes for the lead when green flew again on lap 135. Holmes tried to fight back on the low side but before he had the chance, Duncan spun for caution on lap 139. David got a good jump on the restart, with three wide racing back in the pack. Scott Gaylord, Portenga and Cameron were three wide into turn 3, with Ickler, Woods and Portenga three wide coming out of turn 4.

 

The race finally settled into a even pace with 50 to go, as David got three car lengths on Holmes. Holmes then ran David back down, but once Holmes caught up, David again pulled away. The lead continued to yo-yo while Portenga, Woods and Cameron battled for fourth. Woods gave Portenga a tap on lap 168, but backed off giving him the chance to straighten himself out.

 

Holmes re-caught David on lap 170, with a big margin to Ickler in third. Woods used another bankshot pass on lap 168, this time on Portenga to get fourth. With 25 to go, Holmes was right on David’s bumper as the lead duet came up on lap traffic. Cameron picked up two spots getting by Portenga for fifth on lap 178, then Woods on lap 180 for fourth leaving Woods and Portenga side by side.

 

Holmes got inside David on lap 181 and was able to wrestle the lead away on lap 182 as they battled through traffic. This unyielding traffic would play a key role in the final outcome. David stayed glued Holmes as they diced between and around slower cars. Holmes got hung by the slower car of Duncan. David took advantage and got a run inside Holmes on lap 195. The two battled side by side through turns 1-2 and down the back stretch with David getting ahead on lap 196.

 

The fight continued on with Holmes now on David for the lead. As the duo took the white flag they were again approaching a slower car. As the ran down the back straightaway David went high to get by Mark Schulz. Holmes saw a small hole and drove into turn 3 three wide. Holmes and David made contact sending David around, with Holmes able to keep going at take the controversial win. Duncan recovered to finish fifth, while Ickler, Cameron and Johnny Borneman getting by for second through fourth.

 

“It feels really good,” said Holmes about his first ever series win. “I’m a little disappointed it came down to us getting into it like that. I got hit by a lap car and had to race Mike(David) hard. I’m happy with the way it came out and it should help us cushion our points lead. I buy a lot of parts of parts from him and we’re buddies. I have to apologize for what happened.”

“The lap car got me earlier and another lap car did it again. That’s the way it goes sometimes. There’s too much at stake, I couldn’t back out. I saw a hole and went for it. I just lost another championship by one point like that. There was a bunch of people behind us. There were a couple that just wouldn’t get out the way at the end. That’s disrespectful for them when the leaders are coming..”

“It’s a little disappointing but it was a fun race until then.”

We raced hard at the beginning to get the bonus points but you have to have something left at the end too. It made it a fun, exciting race. It was probably one of the more exciting races for the fans here at this track.”

“We’re basically unsponsored, Allen Beebe, the car owner gives us everything we need and is real good to us. Sunoco Race Fuels and Willwood Wheels are contingency sponsors and help, too. This is an old RCR(Richard Childress Racing) chassis, with a “Freight Train” Peters motor. This is our only car and only motor.”

“I’ve been talking to a few teams(CTS and Busch), but I’ve been super busy on the road and maintaining the car. I’m going to get a week off here and hopefully go to North Carolina, talk to some people and work on it.”

 

 

Allstate Texas Thunder 200

1. 62 Eric Holmes

2. 20 Brian Ickler

3. 88 Austin Cameron

4. 8 Johnny Borneman

5. 2 Mike David

6. 77 Steve Portenga

7. 54 Tim Woods III

8. 9 Mike Duncan

9. 07 Giuliano Losacco

10. 18 Eric Hardin

11 33 Mark Schulz

12. 1 Jim Inglebright

13. 66 Justin Loften

14. 00 Scott Gaylord

15. 75 Jack Sellers

16. 16 Peyton Sellers

17. 09 Bruce Betts

18. 44 Andrew Myers

19. 27 Bobby Hillis

20. 12 Randy Lynch

21. 39 Tavo Hellmund

22. 61 Brett Thompson

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