E.A. Sports Today

Holmes 10th in Dega debut

Munford driver experiences all Talladega Superspeedway has to offer in a top 10 ARCA finish

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

TALLADEGA — Bret Holmes fulfilled a lifelong dream of racing at Talladega Superspeedway Friday. He got to experience in 76 laps — 74 actually — what veteran drivers on the big circuit do every year they come here.

There was some body-jarring banging and long stretches of high-speed side-by-side racing where you absolutely have to trust your neighbor. There was getting shuffled out of the draft and dropping back in the pack.

And, of course, there was a race ending in a caution.

Holmes survived all that for a top 10 finish in the General Tire 200 ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway. It was his second top 10 in two career ARCA starts this season.

Gus Dean was declared the race winner as officials ruled his nose was just inches ahead of Josh Williams when the caution came out two laps before the scheduled finish. An initial radio report had Williams winning the race.

Several cars were wrecking hard behind them and race officials decided with storms and darkness approaching it would take too long to clean up the mess, so the race ended there.

“That race taught me a lot more than what the test taught me,” Holmes said. “The test only taught you a little bit. You can plan stuff out a little bit better than the race. You’ve just got to react so quick to everything.

“I really enjoyed being out there. It was a great opportunity to be able to do this again and I had a lot of fun. I wish I would’ve made a little better decision in the race to go high early, I think the outcome would’ve been a little bit different, we would’ve been out front most of the day, if I had chose to go outside there early on.”

Holmes got a rude introduction to Talladega racing on Lap 19 when he took a hard shot on the driver’s side from John Wes Townley when the points leader cut a tire after contact with Bobby Gerhart. He was running 14th at the time.

He had been running between 10 and 15 most of the race, but a caution with 31 laps to go threw him all the way up to sixth and he ran in the top 10 the rest of the way. He was locked into a pack behind the leaders with about eight cars and just couldn’t break out of it.

“At the start of the race when everybody was close to each other that was pretty nerve-wracking,” he said. “When we went three wide there a few times and it was really tight, that made me learn a lot and be a lot easier on the wheel and pay attention a lot more what I’m doing and where I’m at on the race track.

“When there’s that many guys around you its har to tell where you are on the race track, so you have to trust the person in front of you to do the right thing. That’s what happens in these restrictor plate races, the person in front of you kind of determines your fate. That’s what happened today.”

Actually the carnage going on behind Holmes in the final laps helped him to a top 10 finish. He got hung on the high line making a move, possibly by the checking up of Dalton Sergeant, and dropped from ninth to 19th. But he hadn’t passed the track transponder at the time of the wreck so he was ninth when the race was called and officially finished 10th.

It was a big day for the 18-year-old Munford driver, one he certainly won’t forget. Earlier in the day, Carl Edwards, a family friend who’ll be looking to win his third Sprint Cup race in a row in Sunday’s GEICO 500, offered this piece of advice: Make sure you’re there at the end and don’t tear up the race car.

He was and he didn’t.

“We’ll build off this; we’ll learn off this,” Holmes said. “I don’t know if it’s the racer in me, but I’m not satisfied with how we did today. I’m not going to hang my head over it too much, but I wish things would’ve went a little bit differently.”

On the cover: Bret Holmes visits with his buddies from Auburn and Donoho at the hauler after posting a top 10 finish in Friday’s ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway.

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