Auburn University's Bret Holmes regrouping for Kansas finaleOctober 19, 2017
TOLEDO, Ohio (Oct. 8, 2017) -- It's been an up and down and all around kinda year for Munford, Ala.'s Bret Holmes. Despite the twists and turns that come with chasing the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards -- it's his first full season -- Holmes says he's enjoyed every step, every struggle, everything about his first year on the job.
"I've really loved it," said Holmes. "There have been a lot of struggles, but I've learned so much and it just makes me want to come back and keep doing it.
"I've enjoyed the season all the way around…driving on all the different tracks. Despite all the stuff that's gone on…had to run the team more than I wanted…it's been tough. I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it was, but that's where the learning comes from."
Holmes was referring to the team's mid-season shake-up when he switched crew chiefs from Bryan Berry to Sam Schram. During the transition, Holmes had to step up more than he intended. There was also the fact that the team only had three cars to start the year.
"We only had three cars at the beginning of the year…most teams have six or more. If I had a wreck, it'd take a month for us to rebuild a car…we only have three full-time guys. So we were conservative, not for points, but because I had to be."
In addition to keeping up with his Bret Holmes Racing (BHR) team full-time, Holmes, as a full-time student at Auburn University, had to simultaneously pay close attention to his education.
"After Kentucky, I've just really focused on school. I've been at Auburn the last couple weeks…just came home today to help my dad with the construction company. Tomorrow, I'm going to hang out with some friends, spend the weekend with my girlfriend Hannah, watch the game (Auburn/Ole Miss), do some homework and then get ready for next week."
"Next week" means it's going to be time to focus on the Kansas finale. Holmes feels like the team is gaining on its intermediate program.
"I felt like we were gaining on it at Kentucky. It was frustrating…we had an alternator wire burn up and lost voltage during the race. But, overall, I felt like we were running a lot better. We'll take a similar package to Kansas.
"From last year to this year, it's been one giant learning curve. Learning all the different tracks was tough…adjusting to that…finding out what I needed to change from track to track.
"Team-wise…just trying to keep your finger on stuff, not letting things slip, planning the right choices, moving all the pieces around, all the travel…it was all pretty challenging.
"Just traveling across country was a different view for me. I'm used to racing in southeast Alabama. When my dad was racing, he said he learned more in one year when he traveled around than he did in five years just running the local track. Now I know what he's talking about."
Holmes, who grew up on dirt tracks close to home, especially liked running Springfield and DuQuoin.
"Loved the dirt races, especially. I definitely want to run those again. We showed really good speed. We were up front in both and had a shot to win but we got involved in accidents and that ruined our day. I really enjoyed DuQuoin. We were really fast…one of the fastest cars on the track."
Holmes is currently sixth in national championship points with one race remaining.
"The competition was amazing this year, but that's what makes it fun. In just the handful of races we ran last year we were always in the top-five. This year, we struggled for top-10s. Last year, there were usually four and five cars that could win. This year, it's been 12-15. Everybody stepped up their games.
"I feel like it's going to get better for us going forward. I've learned a lot this year and I'm looking forward to next year. We were new this year. I hate to use that excuse, but I really feel like it's going to get better."
Holmes hopes the "get better" part starts at Kansas Speedway in the season finale Oct. 20.
"This last race, we're certainly not going in conservative. We'll probably end up where we are in points, so that's no concern. It's going to be all or nothing at Kansas. Thought we had a good chance at Kentucky but we just had bad luck. A top-five to end the season at Kansas would be nice."
Kansas ARCA 150 kicks off Triple-Header Weekend
The Kansas 150 also serves as the show-opener for big triple-header weekend of racing to include the NASCAR Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 Saturday and the Monster Energy Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 Sunday.
The Kansas 150 marks the 17th consecutive ARCA race at Kansas since the series debuted on the 1.5-mile superspeedway in 2001 – Jason Jarrett the inaugural winner. Other ARCA winners at Kansas include Frank Kimmel, Shelby Howard, Ryan Hemphill, Chad Blount, Scott Lagasse, Jr., Scott Speed, Parker Kligerman, Ty Dillon, Alex Bowman, Spencer Gallagher, Mason Mitchell and Chase Briscoe.
Practice for the Kansas 150 is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 20, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 2:30 p.m. The 17th Kansas ARCA 150 is scheduled to get the green flag at 7:47 Friday night, with live coverage on FS2. ARCAracing.com will also feature Live Timing and Scoring and Live Chat of all on-track activities.