ARCA Menards West Series: 2024 Portland Race Preview

By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires

This Friday, May 31 will take place the first of the two road races of the 2024 season in the ARCA Menards West Series. Indeed after more than month without a race, it has come time to turn left and right for the drivers. It is in Portland, Oregon at the Portland International Raceway that hostilities will begin. They will continue the following week (June the 7th) in California in Sonoma.

The Portland 112, the third race of the season, will be held on the 12-turn, 1.970 mile road course. A circuit that will have to be covered 57 times for a total of 112.29 miles. The 24 drivers entered will all want to succeed Landen Lewis, winner here last year.

The 2023 race winner not being present this year, a new driver will put their name on the list of winners in Portland. Of the ninth races already contested here, there are eight drivers who have already visited Victory Lane. Only Jake Drew managed to win two races. Hershel McGriff having been the first in 1986.

It will be the 1019th race since the creation of the series in 1954, the 146th road race and the tenth here. Ford is the winningest manufacturer here with 5 wins ahead of Dodge, Chevrolet and Pontiac with one each.

The most successful team here, Bruncati Sunrise Ford Racing, with three victories no longer exist, so who will succeed him? Maybe Bill McAnally Racing? Indeed Portland is one of the few tracks where the team from Roseville, CA, has never won.

This race accompanying the NASCAR Xfinity Series, whose race will take place on Saturday, June 1, the JR Motorsports driver Brandon Jones from the second division of NASCAR take the opportunity to race in the West Series and thus obtain a valuable seat time. We thus find East Series leader William Sawalich will also be present in addition to the regular West Series drivers. Finally there will be one newcomer with Jake Walker.

With the absences of Landen Lewis, Jake Drew or Taylor Gray, there are no former winners entered, so we will be treated to a ninth different victorious driver in Portland. Let us especially note the absence of many road ringers that we were used to seeing in recent years in Portland such as Ryan Philpott or Davey Magras. Even more surprising is the absence of Lowden-Jackson Motorsports (Johnny Borneman III No. 41 and the No. 46) or Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports (Eric Nascimento, Jr. No. 4 and the No. 21). Finally Kennealy Keller Motorsports did not replace Danica Dart in its No. 11. Dart being absent due to a date conflict with her Late Models schedule.

All this takes place on the one and only day of Friday, May 31. A one-hour practice session (11:35 to 12:35 a.m. PT) will precede the qualifying session (3:10 to 3:30 p.m. PT). The start of the 57-lap race will be given at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast live on FloRacing.    

ARCA West at Portland

-71st season in history.   

-Race No. 1019 since the inception of the West Series in 1954.  

-This will be the 146th road track (including the 4 street races) race in history.            

-2024 race No. 3 of 12.       

-This will be the 10th race at Portland International Raceway (PIR) since 1986. As far as statistics are concerned, of the 9 races already contested we can highlight:   

-Second time the track used is measured at 1.970 mile. Previously 1.950, 1.967 or 1.980 mile.

-Among the manufacturers Ford leads the dance with 5 wins ahead of Chevrolet (2), Dodge and Pontiac with one each.

-The most successful team at PIR is Bruncati Sunrise Ford Racing with three victories.The all-time most successful owners in history are Bill McAnally (99), Fred Elder (45), Bob Bruncati (42) and Ernie Conn (41). The all-time most successful teams in history are Bill McAnally Racing (99), McCoy Racing (54), The Racing Farmers (47), Bruncati Racing (42) and Gene Price Motorsports (26).

-Jake Drew is the most successful pilot at PIR with two wins. In all, 8 different drivers have won at least one race. Landen Lewis won the race in 2023.   

-Among the manufacturers, Ford leads with 5 poles ahead of Chevrolet (4).  

-Among the owners, the most successful are Bob Bruncati and Steve McGowan , both with 3 poles at PIR.

– Bruncati Sunrise Ford Racing is the most successful teams at PIR with 3 poles.

-The pole sitter has won the race four times. All winners started from the top5 of the starting grid

-The drivers who won the race from the worst starting position was Hershel McGriff (1986) and Jim Inglebright (2009), both from fifth position.

-The track record (current configuration 1.970) is owned by Landen Lewis at 92.350 mph achieved in 2023.   

-As far as yellow flags are concerned, the record is 7 (1986). The 2011 race holds the record for the number of yellow flag laps with 25.  

-The record for the fewest caution is 2 (2022 race #1). With just 9 laps behind the pace car, the 2022 (race #1) race holds the record for fewest laps under yellow flags.

-The most leader changes occurred in 2009 with 10. The fewest leader change is zero in 2012.

-The largest starting field was in 2011 and 2012 with 30 cars.

-The smallest starting field was in 2022 (race #2) with 13 cars.

-Four times the race has been extended by an overtime (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2021).

-One time the race has been shortened by rain in 2022 (race #1).

The Race Procedure 

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the Portland 112 is limited to 26 starters plus provisionals. This event will run under the 2024 ARCA Menards Series rules, procedures, regulations and specifications.
QUALIFYING: Starting position will be set by each car’s fastest recorded lap in the Timed Session.
RACE PIT STOP: There will be a scheduled caution at or near lap 28. Pitting during any caution period in this event will be for adding fuel, 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 for 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 2 for emergency use only, approved by ARCA officials (EIRI).

As last year the entry list is made up of 24 drivers. Including 11 drivers who will make their first West Series race at Portland. Note that there are also one newcomer to the West Series with Jake Walker.

The Drivers   

No. 0 Tony Huffman (Fierce Creature Racing)

Same program for Huffman in Portland as in the previous race in Bakersfield. A start and park and once out of the car, he will return to his role as crew chief in the box of his owner and teammate Bobby Hillis, Jr.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Portland
1 (1DNS)000021stn/a

No. 05 David Smith (Shockwave Racing)

Last year following an accident during practice, the Canadian veteran had to fight in the race with a capricious and unstable car. He hopes for better luck on this road track which he will visit for the second time. This is the kind of track he likes, as he has great experience in TransSam. Brian Carlson will be his crew chief.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Portland
18            0            0              1             0              10th             1 start, best result : 13th

No. 1 Robbie Kennealy (Kennealy Keller Motorsports) 

After the disappointment at Bakersfield where he was unable to start following a broken engine, Kennealy will be keen to regain the top positions. But the task will be difficult. Indeed there are many drivers specializing in road tracks in the West Series, which is not the case for the young driver from Madera, CA since he will make his debut in Portland and more generally on a road track in the West Series. . Charlie Wilson will be his crew chief.

Starts         Wins         Top5         Top10         Pole         Best result         At Portland
7 (1 DNS)01205thn/a

No. 3 Todd Souza (Central Coast Racing) 

Last year Souza had a rocket in his hands but unfortunately he was the victim of a big accident, fortunately without physical injury. In Portland in seven races, Souza has two top-fives and three top-10s. Better still, he finished on the podium in both 2022 races, in third and second position respectively. With Jason Dickenson, his crew chief, he intends to climb on the only step of the podium he is missing, the first.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10          Pole             Best result               At Porltand
122              1               22               70              0               1st (1x)               7 starts, best result : 2nd  

No. 5 Sean Hingorani (Jerry Pitts Racing)

Third race of the season and third different team for the 2023 champion. And each time he has very competitive cars. Indeed the No. 5 from Jerry Pitts Racing won at Bakersfield with Kole Raz. This will be the third time for Hingorani in Portland and again it will be with a third different team. During his first two races on the PIR he was each time ultra competitive but not rewarded for his efforts by finishing outside the top-10 for various reasons.

This time he will have in his hands a team car which was the absolute reference a few years ago on the road tracks. Indeed, whether in the West or East Series, the post-Gene Price Motorsports era saw its duo of crew chiefs from this period team up (Jerry Pitts and Jeff Jefferson) and with drivers like Kevin Harvick, Will Rodgers or Noah Gragson crushed the competition once you had to turn the steering wheel left and right. Dustin Ash will be his crew chief. Hingorani who in all likelihood will be behind the wheel of this car in Sonoma as well.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole         Best result               At Portland
19      4       8       9      2       1st (4x)       2 starts, best result 11th  

No. 6 Caleb Shrader (Jerry Pitts Racing)

Caleb Shrader made his one and only West Series race here last year. And it makes sense to see it again. With BMR he obtained a good seventh position. He is the driver with the most experience on the PIR because he races there several times a year and in various categories. And all this while meeting enormous success. He should be a candidate for a very good result, or even victory because, as with his teammate Hingorani, he is in a team which has a very high rating among bookmakers when it comes to road track. Jerry Pitts will be his crew chief. Pitts who won here in 2012 with driver Greg Pursley.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole         Best result               At Portland
1      0       0       1      0       7th1 start, best result 7th

No. 7 Takuma Koga (Jerry Pitts Racing)

This is without context the best track for Koga. In four races at Portland, he was fifth three times and eighth once (in 2023). Koga has a thing with this road track. With Denny Moyer, his crew chief, the driver of the No. 7 Toyota intends to aim for a new top5. Which would bring joy to the heart after a complicated start to the 2024 season.

Starts               Wins               Top5      Top10         Pole       Best result               At Portland
115               0               4              24               0             5th (4x)               4 starts, best result 5th (3x)    

No. 12  Kyle Keller (Kennealy Keller Motorsports)

Last year for his first race in Portland, Keller suffered an engine failure in a car he was using for the first time. This time he intends to continue the momentum from Bakersfield where he finished seventh. Brian Kizer will be his crew chief.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result            At Portland
24     0        6        14        0        4th (3x)        1 start, best result : 20th

No. 13 Tyler Reif (Central Coast Racing) 

Having come very close to a first victory with CCR this season in Bakersfield, Tyler hopes to take advantage of the team’s know-how on the road tracks to achieve his first victory of the season. Last year for his first time in Portland, he was in the top-five when a crash broke, relegating the LJM driver at the time to a distant 15th position. Michael Munoz will be his crew chief.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10      Pole      Best result               At Portland
16   1     6     8     3     1st    1 start, best result : 15th

No. 15 Jake Finch (Venturini Motorsports)

Finch has made two West Series races in 2022 with two top-10 finishes. Respectively sixth in Irwindale and ninth in Phoenix. Since then he has made a few races in the East and in the ARCA national series. This year he won the Talladega race. In short, a completely different exercise than the one that awaits him this Friday in Portland where he will discover the PIR. It should be noted that he finished 10th at Watkins Glen last year. Larry Balsitis will be his crew chief.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result            At Portland
2     0        0       2        0        6th         n/a

No. 16 Jack Wood (Bill McAnally Racing) 

Big disappointment for Wood in Bakersfield when he had a solid race just off the podium. He will discover Portland but he should be comfortable there because the road track has a winding part similar to what we can find in Sonoma where Wood has already obtained two fourth positions. With Kevin Bellicourt, he will aim for victory and could thus offer Bill McAnally Racing its first victory on this road track but above all its 100th victory since the team’s debut in 1992.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Portland
21041204th (3x)n/a

No. 17 Marco Andretti (MMI Racing)

Marco Andretti’s reconversion to NASCAR/ARCA is complicated. So far on the ovals whether in the ARCA national series or during his only race in the West in Phoenix (combination race). He was very far from having the pace to claim the top-10. The one obtained in Kansas is, it must be admitted, more due to the lack of competitive cars in the national series than anything else.

Even on the road tracks in the national series of the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series he was never in the game. And it’s not his accident at the Indy 500 last Sunday that will give him confidence. The team led by Bruce Cook will, however, have a competitive car to offer Andretti. Indeed Landen Lewis won the race last year with it. Sean Samuels will be his crew chief.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Portland

No. 18 William Sawalich (Joe Gibbs Racing)

The 2023 East Series champion is now a fast and reliable driver. It’s the reliability that he lacked last year when he was a rookie. He was the author of a messy race, ultimately rewarded somewhat miraculously by a good fourth position. This year he has a completely different status and will be a candidate for victory. Remember that with Matt Ross, his crew chief, he won the Phoenix race at the start of the season.

Starts               Wins               Top5               Top10               Pole               Best result               At Portland  
524431st (2x)1 start, best result : 4th

No. 19 Eric Johnson, Jr. (Bill McAnally Racing) 

It is here that the rookie made his first career race in the West Series last year. And he had obtained a 10th position. With the experience acquired since at the wheel of a West Series car and knowing his driving qualities on road tracks, the driver of the No. 19 will have to be monitored. Portland will indeed allow him to play the leading roles. John Camilleri will be its crew chief.

Starts            Wins            Top5            Top10            Pole            Best result            At Portland
600309th1 start, best result 10th

No. 20 Giovanni Ruggiero (Venturini Motorsports)

2024 is the year of confirmation for Ruggiero. We knew he had potential. We now know that he will have a great career at the highest level. Excellent second in Phoenix for his West Series debut, he has since been a serious opponent in the East Series against Sawalich. He has a good feeling with his crew chief Shannon Rursch and this is important for the development of a young driver. He will discover Portland and drive a heavy and powerful ARCA car on the road track. But with one of the best current teams in all ARCA series combined, he has all the cards in his hands to aim for victory.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Portland

No. 23 Jake Walker (Sigma Performance Services)  

This young 18-year-old driver, from Phoenixville, PA, will make his West Series debut. He is a BMW driver with Turner Motorsports in the GTD category in the IMSA Weathertech Sportcar championship. His experience of road tracks will be useful to him. Compared to the BMW, the Chevrolet in ARCA is less agile and brakes worse but has much more power. Note that Walker is the third different driver to take the wheel of the No. 23 in three races. Chris Bray will be his crew chief.

Starts            Wins            Top5            Top10            Pole            Best result            At Portland

No. 27 Bobby Hillis, Jr. (Fierce Creature Racing)

It is the neon orange Chevrolet that will be used in Portland, the latter being more specifically prepared for road tracks. Hillis loving this type of circuit. However, this will be his first time in Portland. Tony Huffman will be his crew chief. This will be his 99th career race and he intends to take advantage of this to best prepare for the Sonoma race where he will take part in his 100th race.

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland
98     0      0      8      0      8th (1x)      n/a

No. 32 Dale Quarterley (Quarterley Racing)

At 63, veteran Quarterley is like good wine. It gets better with age! As proof, his excellent third position acquired here at the PIR last year and which owes nothing to chance. He was competitive from start to finish. This year, he has done little racing again. As for the stock car, he just participated in the Daytona race but without keeping any memorable memories (40th lap accident). His son Alex Quarterley will be his crew chief.

Starts      Wins           Top5        Top10         Pole               Best result               At Portland  
1303802nd (1x)3 starts, best result: 3rd 

No. 42 Brandon Jones (MMI Racing)

Jones has just obtained his first top-five of the season in the Xfinity Series in Charlotte with second position. He comes here to gain experience on road track because even if he knows the PIR having already driven in NXS in 2022 and 2023 he was not fast enough to obtain any top-10 there. Road tracks aren’t really his thing. And that’s why he races in the West Series.

Seat time being the pilot’s best friend. As for the West Series, this will be his second career race, the first dating back to 2013 on the Phoenix oval. Brian Bibeau will be his crew chief. For the latter, a graduate of the NASCAR Technical Institute, this will be his first race in this position in the West Series.

Starts      Wins           Top5        Top10         Pole               Best result               At Portland  

No. 50 Trevor Huddleston (High Point Racing) 

Having come within a hair of victory in Bakersfield, Huddleston however won one more thing. He, the eternal outsider for the championship, is now an assertive driver whose only objective is to bring the 2024 crown home. And he will benefit from an excellent car at Sonoma (formerly Bruncati Sunrise Ford Racing) to aim for victory or big points. Because a championship is won above all by consistency at the top of the charts, race after race. Jeff Schrader will be his crew chief.

Starts           Wins           Top5           Top10           Pole           Best result           At Portland
67        3           25        54           2           1st (3x)         2 starts, best result: 7th

No. 55 Isabella Robusto (Venturini Motorsports)

Excellent sixth in Phoenix, Robusto has since further improved her level of performance. As proof, her good second position in Nashville for her first career race in the East Series. She will discover driving an ARCA type car on a road track. She will also discover the PIR. For this she will benefit from the advice of her crew chief Kevin Reed, Jr.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Portland

No. 71 Nick Joanides (Jan’s Racing)

The top5 obtained in Bakersfield owes nothing to chance. Jan’s Racing is starting to reap the rewards of its hard work over the off-season. The cars are carefully prepared and are now reliable as well as fast. Joanides will make his first West Series race in Portland. Rip Michels will be the crew chief.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Portland
30  0       210   0      4th      n/a

No. 77 Dave Smith (Performance P1 Motorsports)

Dave Smith, 57, of Novalto, CA is back in action with PP1M for the season’s two road tracks. It starts this Friday in Portland and it will continue a week later in Sonoma, CA. It is also in Sonoma that Smith has already ridden for PP1M in 2021. Concerning Portland, he has already done two races there. The first in 2011 with Naake-Klauer Motorsports where he finished fifth and the second in 2021 with Wood-Holleran Performance, 14th after running out of fuel one lap from the end while a new top-10 presented itself to him . He therefore has an excellent level on road track and he will have veteran Roger Bracken as crew chief.

Starts              Wins              Top5              Top10              Pole              Best result              At Portland
1301305th2 starts, best result 5th

No. 88 Tanner Reif (Naake-Klauer Motorsports) 

What a pleasure to see Tanner Reif racing Portland with NKM. We know the high level of NKM on road track and Tanner also has good experience in PIR where he has already ridden three times with two top-10s to boot. His best result being a third position in the first of the two races contested here in 2022. Last year with BMR he had the speed to achieve a very good result but his race was largely disrupted by too many mechanical problems. Mike Naake will be his crew chief.

Starts          Wins          Top5          Top10          Pole          Best result          At Portland
24 16 1st (2x)3 starts, best result 3rd

 Final notes

-Tanner Reif will also drive the No. 88 for Naake-Klauer Motorsports at Sonoma on June 7.

-Sigma Performance Services only hires one car in Portland and Sonoma. If in Portland it is the rookie Jake Walker who will be at the wheel of the No. 23, the team announces the presence of a NASCAR Cup Series driver behind the wheel in Sonoma to be announced at a later date.

-Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports is offering its two cars (No. 4 and No. 21) for rental for the Sonoma race.

-Lowden-Jackson Motorsports will return with at least one car at Sonoma. Indeed Johnny Borneman III will take the wheel of his No. 41 again. As for the No. 46, it is available for rental. Garrett Zacharias is trying to raise the budget to pilot it.

-Davey Magras should enter his No. 14 in Sonoma. He also announced his intention to acquire a short track chassis with a view to participating in one or another race at the end of the season.

-If Ryan Philpott is absent in Portland, he will be present in Sonoma just like other road ringers like Rodd Kneeland or Tim Spurgeon.

One thought on “ARCA Menards West Series: 2024 Portland Race Preview

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *