ARCA Menards West Series: 2023 Madera Race Preview

By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires

This Saturday, October 21, will be the 11th race of the 2023 ARCA Menards West Series season, the 51FIFTY Jr Homecoming ARCA 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall Of Fame, at Madera Speedway, Madera, CA.

The arca menards series west returns to madera speedway for the first time in 14 years.
Photo courtesy of ARCA Menards Series via Vincent Delforge.

This 0.333 mile oval built in 1972 will host the West Series for the eighth time. The first race in 1973 was won by Jack McCoy driving a Dodge entered by Ernie Conn. Madera made brief appearances on the West Series schedule in 1989 and again between 1995 and 1996 before returning for a one shot in 2003 and for the most recent time in 2009.

Even if a few drivers like Takuma Koga (2003) or Todd Souza (2009) were already racing when the West Series came to Madera Speedway, none of them had participated in the Californian race in those years. Rarely, all the drivers registered this year will discover the short track in racing conditions in the West Series. But many of them have raced here in other categories.

If we therefore have a new driver who will put his name on the list of winners, Bill McAnally Racing could enhance his collection of victories with a new trophy. It is the only team present this year having already experienced the joys of Victory Lane in Madera. It was in 2009 with Eric Holmes. The same goes for the crew chief. Ty Joiner, the current crew chief of Eric Nascimento, Jr., won the race with Holmes in 2009.

Other owners who have previously raced here include Steve McGowan and Joe Nava. Bobby Hillis, Jr, the only driver (and owner) to have already raced at Madera in the West Series in 2003 will ultimately not be present following his accident in Las Vegas. Also announced on the entry list, P.J. Pedroncelli will ultimately not return to competition this year with his No. 33. He took part in the 2009 race in Madera.

No surprises in the entry list. Almost everyone who was in Las Vegas will be present here except the winner Dylan Cappello who will be replaced by Joey Iest at Naake-Klauer Motorsports and a few drivers who made a one shot in Las Vegas like Mariah Boudrieau or Greg Potts will not be no longer present. At Performance P-1 Motorsports, the No. 77 will be driven by newcomer Brody Armtrout.

The latter is the 2021 champion in Jr Late Model division in Madera. Moreover, we will have other former champions of this category in the entry list with Joey Iest (2019), Bradley Erickson (2020) and Ethan Nascimento (2022) who returns from convalescence following the fracture of two fingers on his right hand three weeks ago.

ARCA West at Madera

As far as statistics are concerned, of the 7 races already contested in Madera Speedway we can highlight:  

 DriverOwnerCrew chief#MakeDriverOwnerCrew chief #Make
1973Jack McCoyErnie ConnGary Nelson7DodgeJack McCoyErnie ConnGary Nelson7Dodge
1989Bill SedgwickWayne SpearsLeon Ruther75ChevroletBill SedgwickWayne SpearsLeon Ruther75Chevrolet
1995Doug GeorgeEldon George / Tamara TurnerRodney Haygood37FordDoug GeorgeEldon George / Tamara TurnerRodney Haygood37Ford
1996 #1Mark KroghRobert KroghCorrie Stott24ChevroletButch GillilandBill StroppeDavid Gilliland38Ford
1996 #2Scott GaylordGeoff BurneyTom Puskarich00ChevroletLance HooperLance Hooper / Raymond ClaridgeMike Steurer07Pontiac
2003Mike DuncanMike DuncanBill Sedgwick9ChevroletMike DuncanMike DuncanBill Sedgwick9Chevrolet
2009Jason BowlesBob BruncatiBill Sedgwick6FordEric HolmesBill McAnallyTy Joiner20Toyota

-Seven races and seven different winners.

-Seven races and seven different pole-sitters.

-Among the manufacturers, Chevrolet and Ford are tied  with 2 wins each ahead of Dodge (1), Pontiac (1) and Toyota (1).  

-Among the manufacturers, Chevrolet leads the dance with four poles ahead of Ford (2) and Dodge (1). 

-Note that among the teams present this year only BMR already has a victory.

-The track record is owned by Mark Krogh at 81.544 mph achieved in 1996 #2.  

-The poleman has won the race four times.  

-Butch Gilliland won the race in 1996 #1 from 14th position on the starting grid, which is a record for the worst starting position.  

-As far as yellow flags are concerned, the record is 8 in 1989 and 2009. The 1996 #1 race holds the record for the number of yellow flag laps with 48. Conversely, with only one yellow flag and only 3 yellow flag laps, the 1973 race holds these records.

-The most leader changes occurred in 1995 and 2009 with 7. The 1973 and 1996 #2 races saw the pole sitter lead every lap.

-The largest starting field was in 1996 #2 with 21 cars.

-The smallest starting field was in 1989 and 1996 #1 with 16 cars.

The Race Procedure 

The race will be 150 laps (49.95 miles) and all track activities will be concentrated on the single day of Friday with the single practice from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. PT. The General Tire Pole Qualifying at 5:30 p.m. PT and finally the 150-laps race at 8 p.m. PT. 

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the 51FIFTY Jr Homecoming ARCA 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame is limited to 22 starters plus provisionals. This event will be run under the 2023 ARCA Menards Series West rules, procedures, regulations and specifications.

QUALIFYING: Two consecutive qualifying laps. No adjustments or repairs may be made on car after taking the green flag at Start/Finish line. All cars must make a qualifying attempt, and all drivers must practice before they can qualify

RACE PIT STOP: Pitting during any caution period in this event will be for making repairs and adjustments only, no tires can be changed unless approved by ARCA Officials. Positions will not be gained or lost among those pitting on the same lap unless penalty or going a lap down on pit road. 

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Per ARCA Rulebook, maximum tire usage for this event (purchased plus from-home tires) is 8. Maximum number of tires allowed in pit box for use in race is two (2) for emergency use only – any tire change must be approved by ARCA officials.

The Drivers   

No. 05 Dave Smith (Shockwave Racing)

After two races where the Canadian rookie showed better pace, he intends to continue this dynamic with his crew chief Brandon Carlson and his entire team. This will be his first race at Madera.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Madera
14            0            0              1             0              10th             n/a

No. 1 Robbie Kennealy (Kennealy Keller Motorsports)

Invigorated by a good race in Las Vegas, Kennealy intends to play for victory on a track he knows perfectly. In fact he has raced at Madera in many categories in recent seasons and has done so with success. In addition, its crew chief Charlie Wilson is one of those who already has experience in the West Series in Madera. For example, he helped Scott Lynch to finish fourth there in 2003.

Starts         Wins         Top5         Top10         Pole         Best result         At Madera

No. 3 Todd Souza (Central Coast Racing)

As noted in the first part of this article, the veteran Souza, despite his 118 career races, has not raced at Madera in the past in the West Series. Indeed at the start of his career he often rode part-time, like in 2009 when Madera last appeared on the calendar, and he did not participate. Jason Dickenson will be his crew chief.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10          Pole             Best result               At Madera
118              1               21               68              0               1st (1x)               n/a

No. 4 Eric Nascimento (Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports)

Like many other young drivers present this year, Bubba knows Madera well having driven there in other categories. He intends to use this experience to take the checkered flag. Ty Joiner, his crew chief, also knows the way to Victory Lane perfectly at Madera. He actually helped Eric Holmes win the race in 2009.

Starts         Wins         Top5         Top10         Pole         Best result         At Madera
18        0         5         8        0         2nd (1x)         n/a

No. 5 Dustin Ash (Jerry Pitts Racing)

Without an ignition problem in Las Vegas, he might have won the race. He was in fact second behind Hingorani when he experienced this mechanical failure. Jerry Pitts, his owner and crew chief, made no mistake and offered Ash the opportunity to return to fight for his first career victory.

Starts         Wins         Top5         Top10         Pole         Best result         At Madera
5       01403rdn/a

No. 7 Takuma Koga (Jerry Pitts Racing)

Same thing as Todd Souza. The Japanese veteran has never ridden at Madera. He had good pace in Las Vegas on another bullring barely bigger than Madera. If the electrical problems have been resolved, Koga intends to obtain a top10. Because he is fast on this kind of short track. His crew chief has not yet been announced. Either it will be Ron Norman like in Las Vegas, or Denny Moyer as has been the case since the start of the season. Moyer being a permanent member of Jerry Pitts Racing.

Starts               Wins               Top5      Top10         Pole       Best result               At Madera
111               0               4              24               0             5th (4x)               n/a

No. 13 Tyler Reif (Central Coast Racing)

Fourth in Las Vegas but disappointed because he could win the race. It will be his first time in the West Series at Madera but it should not pose any difficulty for him. Michael Munoz, his crew chief, will also discover Madera with the West Series because whether in 2003 with Tim Woods III or in 2009 with Todd Souza, each time the drivers did not participate in this race.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10      Pole      Best result               At Madera
12   1     4     6     2     1st    n/a

No. 15 Sean Hingorani (Venturini Motorsports)

Hingorani just has one thing to think about. Don’t take pole position! In fact this year, the two times he was on pole, he gave up! In Irwindale (suspension) and in Las Vegas last week (brake). Otherwise, he just needs to watch his opponents and not take unnecessary risks to remain the leader of the championship. Kevin Reed, Jr. his crew chief will give him a fast machine, that’s obvious, but will he channel the passion of Sean who is always hungry for victory?

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole         Best result               At Madera
15      4       5       6      2       1st (4x)       n/a

No. 16 Tanner Reif (Bill McAnally Racing) 

Third in Roseville, third in Las Vegas. The machine seems to be restarted for Tanner and the return to Victory Lane is near. He rides for BMR, which is the latest team winner in Madera. It was in 2009 with Eric Holmes. John Camilleri will obviously be his crew chief.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole               Best result               At Madera
21              2               9               15              2             1st (2x)               n/a

No. 17 Kaden Honeycutt (McGowan Motorsports with Cook Racing Technologies) 

Engine problem during practice and then brake problem during the race in Las Vegas. Which didn’t stop Honeycutt from showing that he had a rocket in his hands. His rise from 21st to fifth position in barely 20 laps proves it. His mission is to bring the owner’s championship to his team which is currently still in the lead with 504 points, nine more than the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports. Sean Samuels will be his crew chief.

Note that Honeycutt is performing as well on real tracks as on those of iRacing at the moment where he also has the support of Kickin The Tires. In the first two races of the eNASCAR Contender iRacing Series, he has one win and a third-place finish.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole               Best result               At Madera

No. 21 Ethan Nascimento (Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports) 

After missing the last two races following the fracture of two fingers on his right hand, Ethan Nascimento is back at the wheel of the No.21. And what’s more, on his favorite racetrack Madera. There is strong experience and is the 2022 champion in Jr Late Model here. His uncle Mike Nascimento will be his crew chief. And associating the names Nascimento and Joiner with Madera is a guarantee of success.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Madera
6 (+ 1 DNS)         0   0  2   0   8th   n/a

No. 23 Bradley Erickson (Sigma Performance Services)

2020 Champion in Jr Late Model at Madera, Erickson finally hopes to achieve success with his new team. Because Roseville and Las Vegas will not remain in No. 23’s best memories. Chris Bray will be his crew chief as in Las Vegas. At LVMS Bullring where before experiencing mechanical problems, SPS had shown to have more speed and rhythm in the race.

Starts             Wins             Top5             Top10             Pole             Best result             At Madera
140       2       9       0       3rd        n/a

No. 38 RJ Smotherman (Wood Motorsports) Start: 14th – Fin: 10th

Smotherman will use the same Toyota as in Las Vegas after repairing the mostly cosmetic damage. The car is efficient. Bullrings are his favorite playground and he intends to obtain his third consecutive top-10 in Madera this season. A season which started off in a very bad way due to countless mechanical problems. But since joining John Wood in Roseville, Smotherman has come back to life! Mike Holleran, the old wizard of engine preparation, will be his crew chief.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Madera
9      0           0           3           0           7th      n/a

No. 41 Nick Joanides (Lowden-Jackson Motorsports) No. 71 Nick Joanides (Jan’s Towing Racing) 

Joanides and his new team created by Jan Qualkenbush, Jan’s Towning Racing, has been in technical partnership since the beginning with Lowden-Jackson Motorsports. Moreover, the driver of the No. 71 drove in Roseville and Las Vegas for the owner points of the No. 41 of LJM. This time no more imbroglio, it is the No. 41 that Joanides will have on his car.

It will no longer be Dave Jackson but Tony Jackson who will be his crew chief this time. But we stay in the family. With this joining of forces from both teams, this leaves Jacob Smith without a car for Madera. But LJM and Jan’s Towing Racing will each enter a car in Phoenix, allowing Smith to return to competition.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Madera
26   0        1        8        0        4th       n/a

No. 49 Monty Tipton (Kennealy Keller Motorsports) 

The arca menards series west returns to madera speedway for the first time in 14 years.
Monty Tipton. (Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge)

Transmission problem for his debut in Las Vegas, Tipton hopes to have better luck at Madera, a track he knows very well having driven there regularly with Kyle Keller Racing. It should thus show us its real potential. Tommy Stefani Hurst will once again be his crew chief.

Starts           Wins           Top5           Top10           Pole           Best result           At Madera 

No. 50 Trevor Huddleston (High Point Racing)

One day it’s Huddleston who loses points due to a mechanical problem (Roseville), one time it’s Hingorani (Las Vegas). In the end there are still 26 points separating the two drivers in the championship. The slightest mistake could be costly. With the family team, Huddleston is having the best season of his career and is not going to give up. He wants the champion’s crown! Jeff Schrader, his crew chief, has the experience needed to help Trevor achieve this goal.

Starts           Wins           Top5           Top10           Pole           Best result           At Madera
63        3           24        52           2           1st (3x)         n/a

No. 52 Ryan Philpott (Philpott Racing) 

Present at Shasta, his first race on an oval since 2013 in the West Series, Philpott will be present with his usual crew chief Chuck Dozhier at Madera. This will be his first time in the West Series on this oval, but he has already raced there in the past in other categories. His car being a road track chassis, he comes above all to have fun.

Starts       Wins       Top5       Top10       Pole       Best result       At Madera
40     0      0      9     0      6th (2x)   n/a

No. 70  Kyle Keller (Kennealy Keller Motorsports)

Very fast in Las Vegas, Keller intends to play for victory at Madera, a track that he knows perfectly and where he has already won numerous races in other categories. Brian Kizer will be his crew chief. The new KKM team is gaining momentum and quickly. This end of the 2023 season is a dress rehearsal with a view to aiming for the championship in 2024. And what the team is currently demonstrating proves that they will have to be reckoned with next year.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result            At Madera
20     0        6        12        0        4th (3x)        n/a

No. 77 Brody Armtrout (Performance P-1 Motorsports)

The 2021 Jr Late Model champion at Madera will make his West Series debut. Roger Bracken, who will be his crew chief, having supported his candidacy at PP1M. At 18, he has long blond hair and looks more like a surfer than a driver. But he is fast and on a track he knows perfectly, he could create a surprise. PP1M being one of only three teams to have already raced at Madera in the past. Even if it dates back to 2003 when the team finished sixth with Steve Portenga.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Madera

No. 88 Joey Iest (Naake-Klauer Motorsports)

For his return to competition in the West Series in Roseville, Joey Iest demonstrated that he had lost none of his talent by finishing fourth. With the car that Dylan Cappello took to Victory Lane in Las Vegas, he plans to do just as well and take his second career victory. Mike Naake will be his crew chief. Naake who already has experience in the West Series at Madera. The last time in 2009, Jamie Dick qualified fourth but unfortunately had an accident 13 laps from the finish while the top-five was in sight.

Starts             Wins             Top5             Top10             Pole             Best result             At Madera

Final notes

-Following his accident in Las Vegas, Bobby Hillis, Jr. and his Fearce Creature Racing team will not be present in Madera. But the No. 27 will be back for the last race of the season in Phoenix.

-High Point Racing’s No. 55 car is not present in Madera. The team preferring to devote itself fully to the No. 50 car of Huddleston and put all the chances on their side for the championship. But the No. 55 should be present in Phoenix with a driver to be determined.

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