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2004 “All-Star Showdown” Tour Series winner Eric Holmes will make the return trip to Irwindale Speedway

Spears Srl Southwest Tour

Spears Srl Southwest Tour
Spears Srl Southwest Tour photo

2004 “All-Star Showdown” Tour Series winner Eric Holmes will make the return trip to Irwindale Speedway

Spears Srl Southwest Tour

2004 “All-Star Showdown” Tour Series winner Eric Holmes will make the return trip to Irwindale Speedway for the “Sunrise Ford All-Star Showdown 200 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame” on February 1st. Holmes is the only driver, entered thus far, who is a former All-Star Showdown winner. The three-time NASCAR ARCA Menards Series West Champion will be looking for win number two, driving for the Nascimento Motorsports Team of Eric and Mike Nascimento.

The 2020 edition of the All-Star Showdown will be a championship event for the Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series, and offers a winner’s take of $25,000. The event is something that Holmes looks forward to, and was a perfect fit for his busy NASCAR spotting schedule.

“We decided to run the All-Star Showdown because I’m sure it’s going to be a great event, at an awesome racetrack. Also, these Winter events work well for me, because my schedule is very busy during racing season.”

The nine-time NASCAR Southwest Tour Series winner also possesses three SPEARS Southwest Tour Series victories. His win in the All-Star Showdown was one of the biggest of his career. It is a career that includes Southwest Tour wins in the October Classic at Mesa Marin Raceway and a victory at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, AZ. His 17 “West” Series wins also include a victory at ISM Speedway. Although he had a victory in the All-Star race, contested between the NASCAR Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest Tours in 2004, Holmes knows the conditions are far different now, for the Escalon, CA driver.

“The 2004 Showdown was definitely a huge race, and one of the biggest wins of my career”, Holmes recalled. “But things have changed so much, and I was racing full time then, and only part time now. I always loved racing Irwindale and I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Holmes has also had recent success in a Late Model. He is a three-time winner of the $10,000-to-win Nut Up Short Track Shootout at Madera Speedway, in the Nascimento Motorsports Pro Late Model. In the Super Late Model, he has competed in the last four Winter Showdown’s, but he is still looking for his first top-10. His last start, during the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Championship season, was in 2016 at Madera Speedway.

His infrequent Super Late Model starts will be one of his biggest hurdles to overcome. But he and the team have a strategy in mind.

“The biggest challenge for me, is that I only run a few Super Late races a year”, Holmes admitted. “They happen to be the biggest ones, so I feel we start out a little behind. But I’m confident with my team to bring a great car, and hopefully I can get up to speed quickly. We are also running the Chilly Willy, so I will get to race the week before.”

Holmes will be returning to a familiar team, for the All-Star Showdown. He has been friends with the Nascimento’s for many years, and he knows the team will have fun on February 1st.

“The Nascimentos and I grew up racing at The New Stockton 99 Speedway, and we have known each other since the mid-90’s’, Holmes began. “Mike went to a few “Tour” races with me, and when Eric became a car owner, I would always run a few races a year for them. The Nascimento family are very dedicated to their racing, and definitely have the most fun doing it. Racing for them has always been fun, and I appreciate everything they have done for me.”

Team co-owner Eric Lee Nascimento is happy to have Holmes back in the seat, of his Southwest Tour Super Late Model. The driver and team have had a lot of success together, despite infrequent starts. The opportunity to put Holmes behind the wheel is something the team owner relishes.

“Our team likes to field a car for Holmes, as many times a year as possible”, Nascimento stated. “It’s tough to fit him in with his busy schedule, spotting for various NASCAR Truck, NASCAR West, and ARCA teams. Whenever his schedule permits, I have a car available for him. We have been friends for years, and we all get along and have fun racing together. Having Holmes in the seat always makes it that much more fun. When he’s behind the wheel, he’s always a threat to WIN, and run up front. He has had great success in my cars in the Pacific Challenge Series , Madera and also limited SRL races.”

Despite his confidence in Holmes, and their past successes together, Nascimento knows that running up front will be a challenge. He hopes that gaining additional experience, and participating in the Chilly Willy at Tucson Speedway, will benefit their effort.

Nascimento elaborated. “It’s tough to run “Tour” races one time a year, against the competition that runs the “Tour”. We plan to run the Chilly Willy, and then the Showdown in back to back weekends, which should give the team some great feedback on the quality of our touring equipment. It also gives Holmes a lot of laps to get acclimated with the car. Eric Nascimento Jr. will run one of my Late Models on the short track for the Showdown.”

Holmes has plenty of experience at Irwindale Speedway, and has had the opportunity to participate in both the Super Late Model and the “West” Series cars at the All-Star Showdown. Despite their differences, Holmes feels the experience has made him a better driver.

“I was fortunate to race ‘Tour” cars and “West” cars on the same nights, and really feel the difference in the cars”, Holmes declared. “The “Tour” car is definitely faster and more responsive, but the “West” car has more power and is a lot heavier. You can drive both cars hard, but you have to definitely be a little more conservative with the “West” car, because of the power and weight. I feel driving both cars helps, and you learn things that help you in the other. When I was racing both cars, and along with other cars, it definitely made me a better driver. I enjoy driving any race car that is fast, and is capable of winning.”

Holmes is thankful for the opportunity that the Nascimento family has given him, to participate in both the Chilly Willy and the All-Star Showdown.

“I have to thank Eric for being an awesome car owner and Mike for making the cars fast. Without the entire Nascimento family helping, none of this would be possible.”

The resumption of the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway will take place on February 1st. It will pay $25,000 to the winner of the 200-lap Feature Event, thanks to Sunrise Ford’s, Bob Bruncati and Ken Clapp from the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Over $75,000 will be paid out to the 36 starters, plus additional cash bonuses for the drivers eligible for the Spears Manufacturing Frequent Flyer Program. If needed, the Last Chance Qualifying race will pay $1,000 to those on the SPEARS Frequent Flyer Program, who do not make the Feature Event.

Celebrating its twentieth season in 2020, the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is a regional stock car series competing on paved ovals in the southwestern portion of the U.S. “The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series…Where the Champions Race”.