New Year, New Team, New GoalsJune 4, 2019
Bret Holmes, driver of the No. 23 Holmes ll Excavation/Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet at Bret Holmes Racing (BHR) began his racing career in the small town of Munford, Ala. He made a name for himself at the local dirt tracks, just like his dad did years before him. The 2019 season brings change for the young driver as he works with a new team in a new shop. Holmes believes change is a good thing.
Holmes can be defined as a true racer. He’s raced on both dirt and asphalt. He’s racked up victories on both surfaces and raced his way to a few championships along the way. Currently on his driver’s resume, Holmes has five series championships across four different racing divisions. Along with his wins and championships, Holmes was awarded Rookie of the Year honors on two separate occasions.
After racing his way around the southeast, Holmes decided it was time to transition to the ARCA Menards Series. He made the jump in 2016 and ran a limited schedule. In seven starts that year, Holmes garnered three top-five and six top-10 finishes. His interest was peaked and competed as a full-time driver in 2017. With two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes, Holmes completed the season sixth in the driver championship point standings.
The 2018 season brought hefty goals for the young veteran. As race weekends came and went, Holmes wasn’t seeing the results he knew he should be. After a handful of races, Holmes and BHR, collectively, decided to take some time off and reevaluate the future.
“We decided we needed to regroup and figure out what we needed to be successful for this season,” said Holmes. “We worked hard over the off season to put together a strong team. We knew where we wanted to be and the resources we needed to get there. Racing is a family sport. You travel a lot with your team and get to know everyone really well. It’s important to have a strong leader and hardworking crew members. I’m proud of the team that we’ve put together. We take steps forward after each race and build on what we learned to make the next race stronger. We have the cars and guys to be a competitive team this season. Our goal was to find the right guys for the job, and we did just that”
Shane Huffman was named crew chief for the No. 23 team at the beginning of the 2019 season. Huffman brings seven years of experience from a top the pit box across the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Working with various drivers, Huffman has called the shots in multiple ARCA Menards Series events where he’s scored four victories, two pole awards, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
“I’m honored to work with such a great team,” said Huffman. “BHR has provided us with all of the tools we need to be competitive this season. We’ve put together a strong team and have a talented driver behind the wheel. Most of the guys on this team have been with me for quite a few years. When we came onboard and met with Bret, it was like he fit right into the group. I didn’t have a doubt that we could work together and be successful this year. I’ve never met a harder working group of guys.”
With the season well under way, Holmes feels comfortable with the off-season changes and welcomes the unchartered territory with his new teammates.
“Shane and I sit down after every race and talk through what we need to work on to be a better team,” said Holmes. “Our communication as a whole has really improved since the beginning of the season. It’s not something you can work at until you’re at the track and racing. I feel like the (No.) 23 team is in a really good place right now. You know it always takes time for a new team to get to know each other, learn how each other works, really gel together, but I think we’re past all that and are working well together. I have no doubt in Shane and our crew with everything that they’re bringing to the table. They’ve all been a huge key to our team that we’ve been lacking the last two years.”
Armed with a strong team and fast Chevrolets, Holmes sets his sights on the rest of the 2019 season. With a solid spot inside the top five of the point standings, the 22-year-old driver wants to contend for the season championship.
“One of our main goals for the rest of this season is to be consistent and finish within the top five every week,” said Holmes. “I feel like we’re achieving that goal right now. We just have to continue to work through the little kinks that come with each race. We’re still a fairly new team, so there’s always things we can work on to be better. If we can continue to be consistent, I know we will have a chance at the championship. I’m confident we’ll be there at the end of the season, hopefully with a trophy in hand.”
Holmes heads into the ARCA Menards Series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway with a few laps under his belt. The Munford, Ala., native has two previous starts at the two-mile race track. Holmes finished fourth at the speedway in 2017. He was on track for another solid finish in 2018 when electrical issues plagued the team and ended their day early. Holmes looks to redeem himself this year with another strong finish, or even better, a win.
“I’m excited for Michigan (International Speedway),” said Holmes. “Shane (Huffman) has a great track record there. He feels it’s one of his strongest tracks. I feel like we’re going to have a really solid day with all of Shane’s knowledge of the track and his history there. I know I have a few things to work on as far as getting a handle on the track, but Shane will be there to coach me through it.”