Is that cam an Energizer 284 H12? If so it's power range is 3000 - 6000 rpm. That would explain your car falling over itself below 2000 rpm. Short of a cam swap I would suggest a 1" 4hole carb spacer, small tube headers and 3.73:1 gears to allow you to get into the rpm range sooner. What intake are you running? Dual plane of some kind I hope!
As for your carb, keep the holley and get a rebuild kit and a can of carb cleaner. It's not hard to rebuild but is a bit scary the first time. When you have that done spend some time tuning it (floats, accelerator pump, idle mixture etc). It will make a workd of a difference. Like everything else, don't be afraid to do it a few times until you're sure it's right.
For the timing, I think Huck has the right idea. Unless you plan to recurve it, find out where the total is (rpm where the timing doesn't go any higher). You'll need a dial back timing light or a properly marked dampner to do this. Remember to disconnect and plug the vacuum source to the vacuum advance for this. I think your engine should run with 38deg btdc total but like huck's advice it could be anywhere from 32-38deg's so that means trial and error. Once you set the total take a reading at idle to see what your initial is. Subtract the inital from the total and that will tell you how much mechanical advance is built into your dist. This will vary depending on what distributor you have.
To find out how much vacuum advance your canister is pulling hook the vacuum advance to a manifold source (one that pulls at idle) and take a reading at idle again. Subtract the first initial number from this reading and it will tell you how much the canister pulls.
Once you know the numbers ( total and what rpm it reached, initial and canister vacuum) you can decide if it's time to recurve.
I think ideal would be something like 20 degrees of mechanical timing with the inital set around 12-18 deg's giving you from 32-38 total. If you could get the total all in by 3000 that would be good. The ported vrs manifold you'll have to try and decide for yourself. Get an adjustable canister or limit your canister to 8-10 deg's of advance and then try both sources.
With 8 deg's of vacuum advance and given the numbers 12 initial and 32 total, using a manifold source you would have 12degs to start the engine. At idle you would see 20 degs (12initial + 8vac = 20degs) and at WOT it would go up to 32degs total.
Using a ported source you would see 12 initial and 32 total at WOT but under part throttle above 3000 (number where mechanical is all in at) you would see 40 degs btdc.
You can see both give you the same WOT but treet part throttle completely different.
Some food for thought!!!
'69 RS Convertible w/SS trim
'96 Z28SS #1679 of 2410