Holmes Has ‘em Covered in R.o.C. Sportsman 100

By – Chris Porter
Photo – Jim Feeney

Bobby Holmes collected his first checkered flag at the Oswego Speedway Sunday afternoon, winning the 100-lap Race of Champions Sportsman Modified event. Starting from the pole, the Lockport, N.Y. native piloted his No. 22 around Oswego’s five-eighths mile atop the field the entire distance.

Holmes (middle) poses with Zeiner (right) and Leaty (left) after winning the R.o.C. Sportsman 100

Only truly challenged after an occasional slip while navigating a turn, being solid on restarts proved crucial for the pilot of the Pizza Logs No. 22. Flurries of caution flags at both ends of the race proved no obstacle for the Dunn Tire Raceway Park regular. Holmes was absolutely thrilled with the win.

Listen toBobby Holmes

Three quarters of a lap after Holmes nabbed the initial lead from co-front row starter, Amy Catalano, a modified meltdown occurred in turn No. 3, involving over a half dozen cars.

Nick Cappelli, Tony Hanbury and Daryl Lewis, Jr. went three-wide into the turn, where Lewis spun. The field jammed, collecting Chip Wanamaker, Jessie Kent, Rusty Smith, Eddie Hawkins, Andy Jankowiak and Chris Finocchario. For Hawkins, Jankowiak and Finocchario, the race was over before it had really even begun.

Holmes retained the lead on the restart, but a spin by Craig Dolphin before he could reach the start/finish line kept the field under yellow.

With caution laps counting the field readied itself to take another crack at green flag racing, with 11 of the 12 completed laps having been run under yellow.

Holmes raced to the point position again, but Catalano fought alongside in a bid for the lead. Catalano was actually scored ahead of Holmes as they crossed the line. However, Holmes wrestled back full control of the top spot and the field was off to the races.

Teammates Amy and Dave Catalano nearly came together on the 15th lap after Dave’s No. 54 lost momentum. Both regained control, but Amy’s No. 64 was sent reeling backwards into eighth place. Zeiner and Buck Catalano would skipped past Dave, moving into the second and third-place positions. Holmes took full advantage of the incident, pulling out to a 10-car length lead.

Buck ducked under Zeiner and with 20 laps in, Holmes continued to hold a dozen lengths on the second and third-place runners. Dave Catalano and Cappelli filled out the top five.

Mike Leaty, Eric Stritzel, Amy Catalano, Hanbury and Matt Kurzejewski completed the top 10.

On lap No. 30, Dave Catalano pulled pitside, promoting Leaty into the top five. On lap No. 32, Holmes tasted his first lapped traffic of the race.

Zeiner and Buck Catalano diced for two laps before Zeiner took over the runner-up spot. Taking advantage of the side-by-side action in front of him, 10th-place starting Leaty moved in on the duo. Leaty would best Catalano for third on the 38th lap.

The caution lights flashed on lap No. 42 after Dick Kluth spun in turn No 2 and Jessie Kent slipped up into the foam in turn No. 1.

Nearing half way, Holmes led Zeiner, Leaty, Buck Catalano and Cappelli. Hanbury, Amy Catalano, Kurjewski, Bryan Sherwood and Jody Buckley rounded out the top 10.

At the drop of the green, Cappelli’s No. 86 bounced Catalano’s No. 6 back to fifth. A few rounds later, Hanbury knocked the No. 6 back to sixth.

Up front, Holmes continued to race uncontested, a few lengths ahead of Zeiner at the lap No. 60 mark.

All was not flawless for Holmes, who’s car began losing its handling shortly after halfway on long runs. Zeiner, Leaty and Cappelli would move in when they could, but couldn’t muster a pass attempt on the leader.

Billowing smoke from Kreig Heroth’s No. 00 summoned yellow flashing lights on the 74th lap. Hanburny and Buck Catalano took the opportunity to pit for fresh rubber in hopes of finding an extra edge for the 25-lap sprint to the checkers.

Again, Holmes was solid on the restart. However, a bobble off of turn No. 4 by the race leader a few laps in saw Zeiner look high and Leaty take a peek down low. It was a similar bobble by Zeiner that allowed Holmes some breathing room as the laps began to tick away.

A final caution flag was thrown on the 89th lap after Buck Catalano and Bryan Sherwood came together in turn No. 3. Sherwood’s No. 95 ended up slapping the inside hub.

This set up a four-lap dash to the finish. Holmes had been flawless on restarts all afternoon and his last one would prove to follow suit. Zeiner could do nothing and Leaty’s No. 1 was spent. Holmes cruised to the checkers.

Having won the weekend’s showcase event the night before, the newly crowned 2011 Sunoco R.o.C. modified 200 champ came up one spot short of a weekend sweep. Zeiner collected the win in the R.o.C. 100-lap Late Model event as well.

Listen toZane Zeiner

Having had his patient run in Saturday night’s 200-lapper thrown away after getting caught up in someone else’s wreck, Leaty bounced back to earn himself a podium finish on Sunday.

Listen toMike Leaty

Having finished third in 2010’s R.o.C 100-lapper, Cappelli was able to follow it up with another solid top-five run.

Listen toNick Cappelli

Having started up front, Amy Catalano fell back early only to end up working her way back up into the top five at the end.

Listen toAmy Catalano

Race of Champions Sportsman 100: 1. Bobby Holmes (22), 2. Zane Zeiner (76), 3. Mike Leaty (1), 4. Nick Cappelli (86), 5. Amy Catalano (64), 6. Tony Hanbury (32), 7. Matt Kurjewski (21), 8. Daryl Lews, Jr.  (10), 9. Buck Catalano (6), 10. Rusty Smith (34), 11. Andy Lewis (65), 12. Kevin Lewis (41), 13. Bryan Sherwood (95), 14. Jody Buckley (29), 15. Kreig Heroth (00), 16. Dick Kluth (27), 17. Chip Wanamaker (44c), 18. Erich Stritzel (20), 19. Craig Dolphin (98), 20. Dave Catalano (54), 21. Jessee Kent (16), 22. Andy Jankowiak (73), 23. Chris Finocchario (8), 24. Eddie Hawkins (33)  *DNS* – T. J. Zacharias (17), Lexi Wilson (2), Jeff Frisbee (2r), Matt Clemens (9x), Russ Brown (13), B. Fitzgerald (39)

Heat race wins went to Leaty, Hanbury, Zeiner and Lewis