ARCA Menards West Series: 2023 Evergreen Race Preview

By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires

This Saturday, August 19, it is on the historic oval of Evergreen Speedway located in Monroe, WA that we meet for the eighth race of the season in the ARCA Menards West Series, the NAPA Auto Parts 150.

Vincent delforge breaks down the storylines entering the arca menards series west race at evergreen speedway.
Photo Courtesy of ARCA.

This will be the 62nd time in history that Evergreen Speedway has hosted the West Series, the 1012th race in history. The first time dating back to 1964 when Dick Bown took his Plymouth to Victory Lane. At the time the oval was .625 miles long. Since 1985 and the victory of Derrike Cope it is in its current configuration of .646 miles.

Last year rookie Tanner Reif won ahead of the driver who eventually became champion at the end of the season, his teammate Jake Drew. Reif having perfectly exploited the last restart to seize the leadership of the race. This victory will go down in history as it coincided with the 1000th race in the history of the West series since its inception in 1954.

In the previous race at Shasta, CA, Sean Hingorani won for the third time of the season, reducing his deficit to just seven points over leader Landen Lewis. Will we see a change of leader at the end of the race? Everything is possible.

The entry list is made up of “only” 15 drivers. Tyler Reif will once again be driving the No. 13 Central Coast Racing car and will be that way until the end of the season. Todd Souza continues his farewell tour with the team’s No. 3. After his debut at Shasta to familiarize himself with an ARCA car, Kole Raz is back with Jerry Pitts Racing on the No. 5.

Vincent delforge breaks down the storylines entering the arca menards series west race at evergreen speedway.
Eric Johnson Jr. (Photo Courtesy of Eric Johnson Jr. via Vincent Delforge)

Note that Bill McAnally Racing enters a second car, the No. 19 for Eric Johnson, Jr. that the we had seen behind the wheel of this car on the two road tracks earlier in the season. Finally Jake Drew is announced at the wheel of the Lowden-Jackson Motorsports No. 41 as at Shasta but this remains to be confirmed.

For more statistics on Evergreen Speedway, I suggest you consult the “Quick stats” part of the following article:

The race will be 150 laps (93.75 miles) and all track activities will be concentrated on the single day of Saturday with the single practice from 2:05 to 3:00 p.m. PT. The General Tire Pole Qualifying at 3:30 p.m. PT and finally the 150-laps race at 6:35 p.m. PT. 

The Race Procedure 

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the NAPA Auto Parts ARCA 150 is limited to 22 starters plus provisionals. This event will run under the 2023 ARCA Menards Series West rules, procedures, regulations and specifications.

QUALIFYING: Starting position will be set by each car’s fastest recorded lap per the Timed Session qualifying procedure.

RACE PIT STOP: Break pitting procedure. Break at or near the conclusion of lap 75. No adding or moving tires to or from pit box after race has started. All cars will be required to make at least one pit stop prior to last 10 laps of race. 

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Per ARCA Rulebook, maximum tire usage for this event (purchased plus from-home tires) is 12. Maximum number of tires allowed in pit box for use in race is four (4).

It’s time to detail the entry list, driver by driver.

Note that the driver of the No. 21 of Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports has yet to be announced.

The Drivers    

No. 05 Dave Smith (Shockwave Racing)

It was right here at Evergreen that the likeable Canadian veteran made his West Series debut last year. He had to retire on the 117th lap following an accident. It will be interesting to see him again on this track, it will allow us to see the progress of the driver and his team. Brandon Carlson will be his crew chief.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole               Best result               At Evergreen  
11             0             0               1              0               10th              1 start, best result 13th 

No. 3 Todd Souza (Central Coast Racing)

Last year Souza had his best result at Evergreen, finishing in fifth place. And it is an oval that he appreciates. For proof his four top10 in five races here. After using his Toyota at Shasta, he will be driving the Ford Mustang this time around. Jason Dickenson will be once again his crew chief.

Starts                Wins                Top5                Top10           Pole              Best result                At Evergreen
115               1                20                65               0                1st (1x)                5 starts, best result : 5th 

No. 4 Eric ‘Bubba’ Nascimento (Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports)

This will be Bubba’s first time racing a West Series car at Evergreen. But last year his team had been present with the newcomer Sean Hingorani. And the latter had been very fast, even if he had not been able to see the checkered flag following an accident. But it bodes well for the No. 4 driver.

Ty Joiner, his crew chief, having established a good car setup last year on which Nascimento can build. And as he is in good form at the moment as shown in his last two races where he finished in the top-five, he could open his victory counter this season.

Starts          Wins          Top5          Top10          Pole          Best result          At Evergreen
15         0          3          5         0          2nd (1x)          n/a

No. 5 Kole Raz (Jerry Pitts Racing)

A dazzling debut for Kole at Shasta where he was even a potential candidate for victory at the end of the race. He finished the race in third position due to a lack of experience at this level during the last restart. But now that he knows his opponents and how to race with an ARCA car, he should perform very well on a track he knows well. With his crew chief Jerry Pitts he could create a surprise by winning the race.

Starts          Wins          Top5          Top10          Pole          Best result          At Evergreen
1        0 1 1 0 3rd n/a

No. 7 Takuma Koga (Jerry Pitts Racing)

Like Souza, Takuma had his best result at Evergreen last year with ninth place. He will be the most experienced driver here as he will take part in his ninth race. And after Shasta’s disappointment, it’s an opportunity for the Japanese driver to get back into the top-10. With Denny Moyer, his crew chief, this will be his only objective. In addition Koga will be keen not to be upstaged by his young teammate Kole Raz.

Starts                Wins                Top5       Top10          Pole        Best result                At Evergreen
108                0                4               23                0              5th (4x)                8 starts, best result 9th    

No. 13 Tyler Reif (Central Coast Racing)

Changing teams during the season is never easy, especially for a candidate for the championship. But one thing is certain, Tyler succeeded when he arrived at CCR. He was very fast as soon as he got into the No. 13 and was just unlucky with a mechanical problem when he had the podium in his sights at Shasta.

He will start at Evergreen but with his experienced crew chief Michael Munoz and his great adaptability, Tyler will be a candidate for victory. Will we see No. 13 back on Victory Lane for the first time since 2008?

Starts                Wins                Top5                Top10       Pole       Best result                At Evergreen
9    1      2      4      0      1st     n/a

No. 15 Sean Hingorani (Venturini Motorsports)

It was here last year that we discovered Hingorani. And from his debut he led the Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports car into the top-five even before halfway through the race. But he was the victim of a clash with his great rival in 2023, Landen Lewis.

From their first race together, the two young drivers fought each other on track. And it continues this year with the difference that today it is to become the new champion of the West Series. As in most races Kevin Reed, Jr. will be his crew chief at Venturini.

Starts                Wins                Top5                Top10                Pole                Best result                At Evergreen
12       3        3        4        1        1st (3x)        1 start, best result 14th 

No. 16 Tanner Reif (Bill McAnally Racing)

2023 is a complicated sophomore year for Tanner Reif. Last year as a rookie he had won two victories at Irwindale and Evergreen. Lack of consistency and too often victim of the ardor of his opponents or technical problems. Reif wants to regain confidence. John Camilleri, his crew chief, will do everything in his power to help Tanner find his way back to Victory Lane and at the same time offer this 100th victory that Bill McAnally has been waiting for too long.

Starts                Wins                Top5                Top10                Pole                Best result                At Evergreen 
18               2                7                13               2              1st (2x)                1 start, best result 1st 

No. 17 Landen Lewis (McGowan Motorsports with Cook Racing Technologies)

Last year he led the first 30 laps with BMR at Evergreen before losing time, his setup not being suitable for the long run. He finally finished the race in sixth position after having crossed swords with Hingorani.

If Lewis dominated the first four races of the season with three second positions and one victory, it should be noted that since his victory in Portland, he has been lacking in success. He saw his championship lead melt away against Hingorani. For the first time this season Sean Samuels will be his crew chief in place of Richard Mason. Will this allow Lewis to find his way back to Victory Lane?

Starts                Wins                Top5                Top10                Pole                Best result                At Evergreen
15               2                8                12                2                1st (2x)              1 start, best result 6th 

No. 21 TBA (Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports)

Starts       Wins       Top5       Top10       Pole       Best result       At Evergreen

No. 41 Jacob Smith (Lowden Jackson Motorsports)

Prioritizing possible future NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts, Jake Drew will not be present at Evergreen. LJM has therefore decided to call on Jacob Smith to drive the No. 41. Smith will thus make his second career start in the West Series after Las Vegas last year. He will, however, discover Evergreen. Smith who just won the Madera Summer SpeedFest in SLM. Tony Jackson will be his crew chief.
Starts             Wins             Top5             Top10             Pole             Best result             At Evergreen
1      0         0          1           0         9th  n/a

No. 50 Trevor Huddleston (High Point Racing)

Trevor is in good momentum since the beginning of July with a victory at Irwindale and a second place finish at Shasta. He now perfectly masters his new Ford (ex Bruncati Sunrise Ford Racing) and with Jeff Schrader, his crew chief, he could win another victory at Evergreen. Indeed Huddleston has already won here in 2019. A year when he also won at Irwindale. Will history repeat itself for the Agoura Hills, CA native?

Starts            Wins            Top5            Top10            Pole            Best result            At Evergreen
60         3            23         50            2            1st (3x)          4 starts, best result : 1st    

No. 70  Kyle Keller (Kyle Keller Racing)

Finally a race without mechanical problem for Kyle Keller at Shasta and it was rewarded with a sixth position at the finish. Last year he finished seventh at Evergreen for his first race on this oval. With Brian Kizer, his crew chief, the goal will be the top-five. The Ford he currently uses being a Last Chance Racing car. The team of Andrew and Taniesha Tuttle having ceased its activities in the West Series has put its equipment on sale. Hoping it won’t interfere with Keller’s end of the season.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole               Best result               At Evergreen
17      0         6         10         0         4th (3x)         1 start, best result 7th

No. 77 Nick Joanides (Performance P-1 Motorsports)

Joanides and PP1M progress in the knowledge of their new Ford. Two consecutive eighth positions in Irwindale and Shasta, however, cannot satisfy them. They want more. The car has potential. But the team will have to pull out all the stops to aim for the top-five.

Because Joe Nava’s band hasn’t come to Evergreen since 2020 (Takuma Koga had obtained ninth position) and Nick Joanides hasn’t driven in the West Series on the Monroe oval since 2018 when he finished 11th, already for PP1M. Joe Nava will be the crew chief.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole               Best result               At Evergreen
24    0         1         8         0         4th        1 start, best result : 11th

No. 88 Bradley Erickson (Naake-Klauer Motorsports)

The life of a rookie is not easy. You have to learn the tracks and find a place in the furious pack! Bradley is talented and if he was unlucky in Shasta by being manhandled by several of his opponents, he intends to reverse the trend and obtain his first career victory.

And what could be better than a victory to pay tribute to his grandfather Phil, who recently passed away, and who was an unwavering support for Bradley inside and outside the tracks. Like several other drivers this year, Bradley will discover the Evergreen track with a West Series car. Mike Naake will be his crew chief.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Evergreen
11 0        2        8        0        3rd         n/a

Final notes    

-Ryan Philpott and his No. 52 will not be at Evergreen but he has confirmed to Kickin’ the Tires that we will see him again at Madera and Phoenix.

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