KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Friday was the dawning of a new day for Munford native Bret Holmes.
The 23-year old, who was taking part in his 69th career race, recorded his first victory in the ARCA Menards Series as he took the checkered flag in the Dawn 150 at Kansas Speedway.
Holmes’ win came on the heels of five straight top-10 finishes, including four in the top-four and a previous career-best second-place showing July 11 at Kentucky. It’s been a long time coming for Holmes, who began his ARCA career in 2016 at just 19 years of age after having tons of success across the Southeast in lower racing divisions.
“I’ve been working my whole life for this,” said Holmes, a building science major at Auburn University with just one semester left before graduating. “My team did this for me. It’s been a long, tough road. I can’t thank my friends and my family enough. They believed in me when I didn’t. It was well worth the wait. I’m so happy. It’s awesome. I’m tired as hell. We’re going to keep our head down and get some more."
Holmes, in his family-owned No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet, showed he would be a factor in the race after setting the tone by being the fastest in practice. The starting lineup was set by owner’s points, with Riley Herbst sitting on the pole.
Holmes, who started fourth, took the lead from Herbst on lap 19 and was in charge the rest of the way, leading the final 82 of the 100 laps (150 miles). He finished ahead of the runner-up, rookie Ryan Repko, by more than 14 seconds, with Herbst third, followed by Corey Heim and Tanner Gray.
Now that he knows what it takes to win, Holmes is convinced there is more to come.
“The confidence slowly built when we kept getting those really good runs,” said Holmes, who had a solid third-place effort at Talladega in June. “It’s tough being an underdog and battling those big guys. Now I’m just going to keep my head down and get some more.”
With his win, Holmes now stands second in the championship battle with 317 points, trailing only Michael Self (336), who was sixth Friday night.
Drew Dollar, who won the General Tire 200 at Talladega last month, was seventh, followed by Derek Griffith, Hailie Deegan and Thad Moffitt. For the entire order of finish and the championship point standings, visit www.arcaracing.com.
The ARCA Menards Series heads home to Ohio’s Toledo Speedway for a unique doubleheader next weekend. The Menards.com 200 presented by SPxE will be Friday, followed by the Menards 200 presented by Crosley Brands on Saturday. Both races will air live on MAVTV and stream online on TrackPass on NBC Gold.
MORE ON BRET HOLMES
Holmes grew up around racing.
Living only a few miles from the iconic Talladega Superspeedway and Talladega Short Track, he knew at a young age that racing was in his blood. His father, Stacy Holmes, also a racer for many years, held the record at Talladega Short Track until the younger Holmes took over the honor in 2013.
Holmes has now won at every level of racing he has competed in since he began at the age of 8. Starting back then, he raced go-karts for four years and racked up consecutive seasons of 17, 18, and 25 wins each. From there, he moved into his first year of asphalt racing.
After making the switch to paved track, Holmes went back and forth between dirt and pavement. During this time, he competed in the Crate Late Model Division at Talladega Short Track and Green Valley Speedway. He won this championship and accumulated two wins during that season.
From there, Holmes shifted his focus to Super Late Model, as he raced in the Southern All Stars Series. He finished second in points, winning rookie of the year.
After many years of honing his skills on dirt, Holmes once again went full-time to asphalt. He joined the Lee Faulk Racing and Driver Development team out of North Carolina and began to start the process of mastering, yet another skill. He raced in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Hometrack Series until he decided to make his next move.
After coming back to run out of his family shop in Alabama, Holmes continued his pursuit of paved racing glory.
Just like in all the other series he had ever participated in, success was once again coming to the H2 car. Holmes won the 2015 "Show Me the Money Series" Pro Late Model championship at Alabama’s Montgomery Motor Speedway. He then went on to finish third in the 2015 "Snowflake 100" at Five-Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
In 2016, Holmes added another notch in his racing belt when he won the Pro Late Model Track Championship at Five-Flags Speedway while maintaining an average finishing position of 3.5 at the iconic Florida track.