Bret Bummed at TalladegaMay 16, 2017
By Al Muskewitz -- Special to bretholmes.com
TALLADEGA – Bret Holmes took the hardest jolt he’s ever experienced in his racing career on the final lap of Saturday’s General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway, but when he came out of the infield care center he hurt more emotionally than physically.
Holmes got turned in the backstretch making his run for the lead and wound up hitting the outside wall head-on to bring a painful end to his day. He finished 22nd, only his second finish outside the top 13 in 11 career ARCA starts.
“I’m completely fine, but mentally so disappointed in myself,” he said in the hauler while changing out of his race suit. “I had a good points run just staying where I was, but that’s just not who I am.
“I wanted to give myself a chance to win the race. I feel like I let everybody down.”
A series of misfortunes conspired against Holmes in his second ARCA start at Talladega. He pitted with the leaders under caution on Lap 26 for fuel, but only got half a tank. It forced them to pit again to refuel on Lap 40 and in that move he dropped from fifth to 13th and spent the rest of the race trying to get work his way back up the line.
“I don’t really know why we pitted; I didn’t understand that,” Holmes said. “The guys who won the race just pitted once, and for some reason, we decided to pit twice. I don’t know if they were just worried about us not making it or something.
“That got us back, and I feel like we could’ve stayed in like the top four or five if we didn’t come in. We restarted fifth if we didn’t. That doesn’t make any sense. The 52 (Austin Theriault) didn’t pit, the 18 (Riley Herbst) didn’t pit again, a bunch of guys did not pit twice, and we’re up front. I got us there, and we decided to come down to pit, and I have to get back up there.”
“It won’t happen again,” dad and team owner Stacy Holmes said of the fueling mistake.
He had gotten all the way back to sixth and was running in that position when the white flag came out. He had made a deal for drafting help with Sean Corr, and they were putting it together on the final lap when the mishap occurred.
Holmes was on Codie Rohrbaugh’s back bumper being pushed by Corr, who some eight hours earlier had appeared in the same ARCA media availability with Holmes. But the connection between Holmes and Rohrbaugh in the draft wasn’t quite as straight on as it needed to be and when Corr came in a tad lower, it caused Holmes’ car to lift slightly sending it careening toward the wall.
Corr apologized for his part in the incident afterwards.
Meanwhile, race leader Brandon Lynn lost his chance to win when he ran out of gas after taking the white flag, and the crash set up a one-lap shootout that Justin Haley won for his second straight ARCA victory. Andy Seuss finished second, and Spencer Davis was third in his first ARCA start.
Haley came from the back of the pack to win. A battery issue dropped him back to 30th, but he battled back and led the final six laps. His last ARCA win came in his last ARCA start, August 2016 in Springfield.
“That was crazy,” he said. “My spotter Kevin Hamlin helped me through it. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I listened and did what they told me and it worked out.”
While the winning team celebrated in Victory Lane, Holmes spent the next hour in the infield care center under observation. He was a picture of disappointment when he arrived back at the hauler greeted by team members, family, and friends.
Dad Stacy could feel his pain.
“He is trying so hard,” Stacy said. “Bret is putting 110 percent into all that he does.”