After a disheartening season in 2018, the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season has been one of resurgence for Munford, Alabama’s Bret Holmes.
A full-time college student who also spends time working with his father’s excavation business that helps fund the family-owned race team he drives for, Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet) went from parking his racecars before the season ended last fall to challenging for the series championship in a year’s time.
Holmes has been fast over the course of his career. But last year’s inconsistency caused frustration for Holmes and his father Stacy and brought about an early end to their season.
Rather than throw in the towel, Holmes reloaded. Long-time crew chief and former driver Shane Huffman joined the team after a successful run with the 2018 championship-winning MDM Motorsports organization. Huffman brought with him the vocabulary to speak to Holmes driver-to-driver, but also brought with him years of experience building race-winning racecars and calling the shots from the pit box.
The results were immediate.
Holmes has scored seventeen top-ten finishes in nineteen ARCA Menards Series starts in 2019, more than any other driver including the two fighting for the series championship, Christian Eckes and Michael Self. The only two races he failed to finish among the top ten were the two restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega.
Seven of those top-ten results have been among the top-five, including career-best third-place finishes at Michigan and Chicagoland.
The improved performance and consistency have taken Holmes to third in the championship point standings heading into the final race of the season, Friday’s ARCA Kansas 150 at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway, 135 points out of the lead and 95 points ahead of fourth place Travis Braden.
“We’re proud of that for sure,” Holmes said. “We have a lot of top fives, top tens, and we’ve completed more laps than anyone. That’s all because of the guys. We haven’t had a failure all year. We’ve always had a reason in the past that we didn’t finish races. We’ve stayed out of trouble this year too. We’ve had a couple I wish we could take back but overall we’ve had a really good season. It’s been a big improvement over the past.”
The one thing that has been missing throughout this resurgent season for Holmes is a visit to victory lane. That’s the final piece of the puzzle and one he hopes to slip into place on Friday night.
“We were expecting a couple of wins this season,” he said. “We are going into Kansas with that mindset. We tested there last week. We expected a little more but things don’t always work out. That’s just what part of being with a new team. Those two guys in front of us have been with the same team for the last couple of years so they’ve had an advantage because they’ve had that same feel in their cars. There’s been a big difference and feel in the cars has been so different than anything I’ve had previously. We had a good test and I am feeling really good about our chances to go and get our first win to close out the season.”
The ARCA Kansas 150 at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway will close the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season on Friday, October 18. Practice opens the day at 1 pm ET/12 n CT followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 6 pm ET/5 pm CT. The 100-lap/150-mile feature event will go green at 8:30 pm ET/7:30 pm CT and will be shown live on FS2 with an immediate replay on FS1. ARCA for Me members can follow live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates throughout all on-track sessions free at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login.