BRISTOL, Tenn. — Story by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images North America photo —
Caleb Holman and his No. 75 Henderson Motorsports crew went up against the top teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage Wednesday night at Bristol — and nearly came away with a memory they’d celebrate for a long time to come.
Unfortunately, the celebration turned to heartache in an instant.
Holman was running sixth in the UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP until he tried to dodge the spinning truck of Ray Black Jr. on lap 112 and ran out of room on the top side of the race track, slamming the outside wall in turn four.
The resulting damage ended Holman’s night prematurely and cut short his career-best run.
“I’ve been running the top and knowing where to make time here is running super-hard andm super-high,” Holman said after the accident. “I did that and was working pretty good. We were running well and by the time I let off the gas, the spotter said go low and I couldn’t do it. I was already committed and right when he was supposed to do in the No. 07, he held the brake.”
“The banking had him sliding down a little bit and my only shot is to put him in the wall. He quit sliding down.”
The Abingdon, Va. native made it the final round of Truck qualifying earlier in the day and put his Food Country USA Silverado in the eighth spot for Wednesday night’s race. On the start, Holman ran as high as fourth before losing the spot to Cup interloper Kyle Busch. He also showed speed at Iowa after qualifying sixth for the American Ethanol 200 and finishing 14th at the end of the night.
“This is really tough to take, as fast as we are,” Holman said. “This is such a small team, we don’t get opportunities to run this good that often. We’re making the most of it I think and we’ll be back. We don’t do it because it’s easy. It’s supposed to be hard and we’ll just keep digging.”
Before getting caught up in the wreck, Holman was on pace to score his first top-10 finish for the Charlie Henderson-owned team until disaster struck with the No. 07 . The 31-year-old driver wasn’t the only one to have trouble with lapped trucks in the race, as leader Cole Custer hit the No. 23 of Spencer Gallagher with 40 laps to go, sustaining heavy damage to the front of the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet and ending any chances for the 17-year-old to come away with the victory.
For those not accustomed with Holman, he previously competed in the defunct CARS Pro Cup Series, accruing 15 wins and the 2014 series championship over a 10-year span. Before running the Truck Series on a part-time basis in 2012, Holman also made five starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, with a best finish of 28th in April 2004 at Nashville Superspeedway. Before tonight’s race, his best finish in the Camping World Truck Series was an 11th, coming last October at Martinsville.
Henderson Motorsports goes back to the old NASCAR Busch Series days with drivers such as Rick Wilson, Ernie Irvan and Brad Teague, who is making his final NXS start this weekend at Bristol. The team has three wins in NASCAR’s second-tier series, two with Wilson and one with Teague. One of the Wilson victories came at the .533 mile Bristol track in the spring of 1989, so team owner Charlie Henderson is no stranger to victory lane in Thunder Valley.
Though it ended in a shower of sparks, Holman’s strong run going on Wednesday night showed that the small teams can still compete with the big dogs of NASCAR — and it was refreshing, to say the least.