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Roanoke Veteran Dennis Holdren Hoping for SMART Win at Hometown Track

Former Franklin County Speedway champion sits fifth in series points heading into Saturday night’s race

Andy Marquis | STS

Franklin County Speedway is Dennis Holdren’s hometown track and the former speedway champion is hoping to score his first SMART Modified Tour win at the high-banked track in Callaway, Virginia on Saturday.

Holdren, 55, from Roanoke, Virginia, is a former champion at the 3/8-mile high-banked bullring in Callaway, Virginia and has been competing regularly in the SMART Modified Tour this season.  He enters Saturday’s race fifth in points and enters the event fresh off a fourth-place finish at South Boston Speedway in April.  This weekend, he’s hoping for a win at his hometown track.

“This is our home track, it’s the closest track to us,” Holdren said.  “I’ve got several laps around this track.  I’ve had a lot of success at Franklin County Speedway with the Mod-4 cars and the Late Model cars.  Got a lot of wins there.  My family, my dad, started taking me there in 1972.  That’s how long I’ve been going to that track.  It is home to us and we love going there.”

Winning on Saturday would be a momentous occasion for the 2018 track champion.

“I’ve got family that’s going to be there, friends that will be there, people in this area that I’ve raced against watching, and it would be awesome to bring a car from this area to victory lane,” Holdren explained.  “Mark Dowdy is the owner of this car and of course it’s paying homage to Speedy Thomas and Talmage Thomas.  They have been racing Modifieds for over 30 years, so it would mean the world to us to be able to pull something like this off.”

Holdren will face some tough competition on Saturday with names like Bobby Labonte, Burt Myers, Tim Brown, Ryan Preece, and John Smith – among others.  The veteran racer feels up to the challenge.

“We do understand that it’s definitely an uphill climb, but we think we’re up to the task,” Holdren stated.  “All that competition was at South Boston and we were able to have a good finish.  The performance was there, but that track position wasn’t where we needed it to be but we feel like we keep making gains at it and we’re better each time we go out.”

One thing Holdren will have on his side is experience after racing for years at Franklin County in multiple different disciplines, and Holdren hopes to use that experience to his advantage.

“I have had several laps around the track,” Holdren commented.  “I think I know where the line is to run there and hopefully we can translate that with the Modified.  We’ve got the big tires there and they’re very grippy.  We’ve just got to keep the car balanced enough to keep the tires under us so we can utilize that speed.  The track has a lot of grip and it’s got high banks.  It’s going to be fast, that’s for sure.  With 20 cars there, hopefully we can dodge all the calamity that may happen, keep our nose clean, and get us a good finish.”

Holdren started racing Modifieds last year, competing in the Stadium Invasion Series that was held at Franklin County last year, filling a void left behind by Bowman Gray Stadium which was closed all season due to the restrictions put in place by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.  Since then, he’s made the transition to full-time Modified racing in the SMART Modified Tour.

“This is my first year running the tour,” Holdren remarked.  “We ran four or five races last year, first time I’ve been in a Modified.  We did really well last year.  Qualified in the top-three just about every race and we felt really confident.  We led several laps there.  We just had a broken ball joined one time and was burning tires up a couple other times.  We’re learning the series so we’re looking forward to getting there and hopefully we can pull off a win.”

The SMART Modified Tour will be the headline event of the Hannabass & Rowe Collision Center Kenny Minter Classic 110 on Saturday evening, which will also feature the Mini Stock division, the Stock-4 class and a 50 lap Any Car race.

Dennis Holdren on track at Florence Motor Speedway. (Andy Marquis/Short Track Scene photo)


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Marquis comes from St. Charles, Maryland and has a widespread background in journalism, having covered politics in Washington and Maryland as well as nearly every form of auto racing, including NASCAR, IndyCar, AMA Motocross and IHRA Drag Racing. Now living near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, Marquis covers Late Model Stock Cars and Super Late Models in the Carolinas and Virginia.

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