NASCARARCA SeriesARCA Menards West Series: Irwindale II Race Preview

ARCA Menards West Series: Irwindale II Race Preview

By Vincent Delforge, special to

This Saturday, July 2, for the second time this season, the ARCA Menards West Series drivers meet at the Irwindale Speedway, in the eponymous city in California. And as in March, the race is called the NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 PRESENTED BY WEST COAST STOCK CAR HALL OF FAME. This is the sixth of 11 races for the 2022 season and the 999th since the inception of the series in 1954. Regarding Irwindale, it will be the 32nd race since 1999. 

West, arca, irwindale
The logo for the NAPA Auto Parts 150. Photo by ARCA Racing Series via Vincent Delforge.

Rookie Tanner Reif won the March race in a big way by leading all the laps from pole position. Will he do as well as 2021 champion Jesse Love who won both races last year? Given the form displayed by his Bruncati Racing team since the start of the year, it is very likely. The Californian team having won three of the five races already contested. Jake Drew, the championship leader and teammate of Reif, remaining on two consecutive victories in Portland and Sonoma. The road circuit specialist will be keen to win his first victory on an oval. 

Irwindale is also what I call the “private garden” of Bill McAnally Racing. The Roseville CA-based team having won 16 of 31 races to date as well as the prestigious All-Star Showdown in 2003. Among the remaining teams again in activity that have already won races here are Bruncati Racing (5) and Performance P -1 Motorsports (1). Austin Cameron with five wins is the all-time winningest driver at Irwindale. At the manufacturers, Chevrolet leads with 15 wins. Other wins are split between Toyota (8), Ford (7) and Dodge (1).   

All this takes place on the one and only day of Saturday, July 2. The unique practice/qualifying session will last 45 minutes from 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. PT. The start of the 150-lap race (75 miles) will be given at 7:00 p.m. PT.  

The Race Procedure: 

The starting field for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is limited to 22 plus provisional positions. This event will be run under the 2022 ARCA Menards Series West rules, procedures, regulations and specifications. 

QUALIFYING: Starting position will be set by each car’s fastest recorded lap in the practice / qualifying session. 

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. 

The maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: The maximum tire use at track for the event is 10. Per ARCA Rulebook, maximum number of tires allowed in pit box for use in race is four (4) – two for break, two for emergency. 

Lewis replaces Herzog at BMR 

Rare in the history of the powerful team based in Roseville, CA, a pilot is replaced during the season for lack of progress in his results. Without going into details concerning the ousting of Austin Herzog, the latter finds himself on foot mid-season and is replaced for the rest of the season in the iconic No. 16 by a young prodigy in the person of the 16-year-old Landen Lewis. The Ocean Isle Beach, NC driver already has two starts this season in the West Series with a win in his first race at Bakersfield. 

 “We’re very excited to have Landen join BMR,” said team President Bill McAnally. “Ron Hornaday, Jr. brought him to our attention and we have been very impressed with what we’ve seen. We will work hard to help Landen reach his full potential. I’m confident that he will put the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy in Victory Lane.” 

The Drivers   

With 22 places available for the race, this will not be a problem for the drivers since there are 22 in the entry list! And among them, note the presence of three newcomers with Jake Finch, Bradley Erickson and Jalen Mack. It’s time to introduce the drivers in more detail. 

No. 1 Jake Finch (Phoenix Racing) 

Born on June 16, 2005, the young Floridian Jake Finch is none other than the son of James Finch, owner of the Phoenix Racing team which participated between 1989 and 2013 in the three national divisions of NASCAR. The fact of glory of the team remaining the victory obtained in 2009 in Talladega with Brad Keselowski.

Phoenix Racing rising from the ashes to help the son climb the ladder in motorsport. This year he made his debut in ARCA East in Pensacola where he immediately obtained a good eighth position. He progressed the following race by finishing sixth on the Monster Mile of Dover. He recently took pole and finished second in the Nashville race behind Sammy Smith. 

He will make his West Series debut along with his experienced crew chief Johnny Allen. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
n/a  n/a 

No. 4 Sebastian Arias (Nascimento Racing)  

Recently unlucky in Sonoma where he was heading for the top 10 before being involved despite himself in an accident, the young Colombian is keen to confirm his recent progress. And what better way to demonstrate it than the Irwindale oval where he obtained his first career top-10 last March. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
5       0        0        1       0        8th (1x)        1 start, best result : 8th    

No. 6 Jake Drew (Bruncati Racing)  

Fourth, second and fourth were Drew’s results at Irwindale. Suffice to say that it performs very well here. And Drew told us, he wants to get his first oval win there. The championship leader, winner of the two road races in Portland and Sonoma is in Olympic form. His crew chief Bill Sedgwick already had three victories here between 2008 and 2009, all with Jason Bowles. In short, all the ingredients are there for a victory. And with a 35-point lead in the championship, he can even afford to take more risks if necessary! 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
14       2        9        12        4        1st (2x)    3 starts, best result : 2nd     

No. 7 Takuma Koga (Jerry Pitts Racing)  

If I said that Arias had been unlucky in Sonoma, what about Koga who hit Tanner Reif upside down on the track, at full speed during a restart. A very violent shock fortunately without consequence. A halt in the progression of Koga this season who had just obtained three consecutive top-10 and especially his first top-five of the season in Portland.

He is the most experienced driver on the Irwindale oval where he has 13 starts with three top-10 finishes including a seventh position this year as best result. Jerry Pitts, his usual crew chief will be assisted here by Denny Moyer, the car chief. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
95        0        3        18        0        5th (3x)        13 starts, best result : 7th    

No. 9 Tanner Reif (Bruncati Racing)  

It’s simple, last March, the 16-year-old rookie crushed the competition with a dazzling victory. Since then, his results have been “less good” since he has not won any more. But beware, it’s still very good for a rookie. To forget his Sonoma accident, Irwindale is right on time! If he manages to win the race again, he will join the two-time champion Jesse Love, the only other rookie in history to win this race twice in a row. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
5        1        2        3        1        1st (1x)        1 start, best result: 1st   

No. 11 Chris Lowden (Lowden Motorsports) 

It is the return of Lowden who had skipped Bakersfield (food poisoning) and road races. In March, he had experienced technical difficulties with his radio before being pushed into the wall by Drew, who took a lap on him and misjudged his trajectory. Drew having apologized for this mistake. The friendly bearded man’s first goal will be to finish the race without incident. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
3        0        0        0        0        13th (1x)        1 start, best result 13th   

No. 12 Kyle Keller (Jerry Pitts Racing) 

As announced last week, Kyle Keller and his family team KKR have entered into an alliance with Jerry Pitts Racing to end the season together. KKR contributing some of the crew members and a part of the logistics.

Jerry Pitts providing car and experience to help Kyle find the path to success. Because together they had already done three races and obtained three top-10s including two top-fives in 2020 and 2021. Keller will have Jerry Pitts as crew chief. Pitts who has already won here with Greg Pursley in 2012. His experience will be very useful for the young driver for whom this will be the first race at Irwindale. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
4th (1x)  n/a 

No. 13 Todd Souza (Central Coast Racing)  

Lots of Irwindale experience for veteran Souza. But curiously he never knew success there. His best result here being three times a seventh position. But this year Souza, failing to materialize with a victory, is showing a lot of speed. He does good qualifying sessions, leads laps,… But there is always a small grain of sand that comes to stop the mechanics. But the day everything is 100% working, he will be a candidate for victory. Because at 57 he still has the same ardor as a 16-year-old rookie! To believe that the passage of time has no effect on him! 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
102       1        15        55        0        1st (1x)        11 starts, best result : 7th (3x)   

No. 16 Landen Lewis (Bill McAnally Racing)  

Lewis is the same age as his car number, which is 16. That iconic number has been synonymous with so many West Series victories in his last 30 years with BMR. He won his first career race at Bakersfield this year and was heading for a podium finish at Sonoma before being pushed into the hairpin by… another BMR driver, Colby Howard, before he himself crashed into his new teammate Cole Moore!

Obviously, whether it’s him or BMR, this incident is already forgotten and now: focus on the future ! For the championship, it will be mission impossible. On the other hand for the victories, he will be a candidate to follow closely! Charlie Wilson remains the crew chief of team No. 16 and will help him learn the Irwindale track where he will start. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
2       1        1        1        0        1st (1x)      n/a 

No. 17 Amber Slagle (McGowan Motorsports with Cook Racing Technologies)  

It was here last year that Amber made her West Series debut. She had shown her speed with a good fourth position in the qualifying session. Unfortunately technical problems had thwarted her race. She was able to do a test session recently at the Motor Mile Speedway in Dublin, Virginia. Very useful for her who rides part-time, including in Late Models this season. Slagle will be a candidate for the top-10 and even better. Note that she was the crew chief of Landen Lewis in Sonoma. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
4   0     0     2     0     10th (2x)     1 start, best result: 14th   

No. 31 Paul Pedroncelli (P.J. Pedroncelli Racing) 

According to my information, it is expected that Paul Pedroncelli, after five consecutive start and park, will finally race to the checkered flag. Irwindale is the oval where he has the most experience. It’s time for him to do full races so he can step between his son P.J. and the other drivers fighting for the championship. Because P.J. is 47 points behind the leader. In the event of problems from one of his opponents, if his father Paul can finish in front and thus grab a few points, it will be a good operation for the championship. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
13        0        0        1        0        8th        3 starts, best result : 11th    

No. 33 P.J. Pedroncelli (P.J. Pedroncelli Racing)  

Irwindale is an oval that suits P.J. well. It was here last year that he took his first career pole before finishing the race in third place. In March he finished fifth with a tough car to drive. Since then, he tells us that he found the problem, proof of his pole position in Bakersfield, and is pinning a lot of hope on this race, which marks the midpoint of the season, to regain momentum and find the path to Victory Lane. . 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
27        1        6        9        2        1st (1x)        4 starts, best result : 3rd    

No. 39 Andrew Tuttle (Last Chance Racing)  

Little by little things are falling into place for Tuttle and his new LCR team. The car is now reliable and the last two road races have seen it achieve its best results of its career, close to the top-10. His wife Taniesha will be his crew chief for the second time. Together they will debut in Irwindale. Indeed Tuttle had skipped this race in March following the damage suffered in Phoenix. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale   
11      0       0       0       0       12th (1x)       n/a 

No. 42 Christian Rose (Cook Racing Technologies) 

Slagle’s teammate, Rose will be making his second West start this season after the Phoenix race. This will be his first run on the Irwindale half mile. Last year on shorter tracks in Las Vegas Bullring and Roseville, he finished in the top-10 each time. This season he is focusing on the ARCA East where he has two top-10 finishes in four races. Sean Samuels, his crew chief in the East, officiating here with Slagle, it is Derek Peebles who will take care of him. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
0        0     2        0        7th (1x)      n/a 

No. 50 Trevor Huddleston (High Point Racing)  

Trevor’s 2022 season started right here last March on his hometrack. The family team led by his father Tim, who is also president of the Irwindale Speedway, only racing on ovals this year. 

It was here that Huddleston took his first career victory in 2019 when he drove for Bruncati Racing. He had six top-10s in six races at Irwindale, adding to his victory a second place finish in 2020 as another top-five. In other words, he will be a serious candidate for victory this Saturday. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
51     2        18     43        2        1st (2x)      6 starts, best result : 1st   

No. 54 Joey Iest (Naake-Klauer Motorsports)  

Iest’s season is not quite what he had hoped for. A lot of technical problems keeping him away from the top of the rankings. In Sonoma he finally had a problem-free race and the result was immediate, a top-five. Last year in Irwindale he obtained the third and fourth positions. In March, he had saved a tenth position thanks to his selflessness. May the good series continue in California for the young driver. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
18        1        7        9        0        1st (1x)        3 starts, best result :3rd    

No. 66 Eric Rhead (66 Rhead Racing)  

For a newcomer driver with a limited budget, starting the season with an accident complicates everything. This is what happened in Phoenix for Rhead and his friends who, following an accident in the qualifying session, were unable to race. Absent to repair the car, which was longer, more expensive and more difficult than expected, Eric and Roxi, his wife and crew chief, were able to carry out a test session last month to check that all was well with their car. If all goes well, this will be the first real West race for our friends from Utah. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale   
n/a  n/a 

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

The “West Series Swiss Army Knife”. The new nickname for Joanides. He is always there if we need him. Substitute driver par excellence, Joanides does his job with talent. He has not often had the opportunity to have a high performance car. PP1M has been experiencing many difficulties for two years.

The budget is lacking and the team is doing a partial season. And when bad luck gets involved like in Sonoma with a recalcitrant engine, even for the engineers at Robert Yates Engines, it’s hard to hope for a good result. But Joanides and the Joe Nava gang never give up. Together last year they had obtained the ninth position in Irwindale. A similar result this year would already be a great performance. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale 
 16    0     1     4     0     4th (1x)    4 starts, best result : 9th    

No. 83 Jalen Mack (Mack Motorsports) 

A young 16-year-old African American who cut his teeth in Karting in the USA (2015-2020) but also in Europe in 2016 at the age of 10, Jalen is the son of Lloyd Mack, a former driver in the West Series (nine races between 2007 and 2008) and who was also a Karting specialist. Jalen’s uncle, former karting driver George Mack, who even had a full season in the IndyCar Series in 2002. It is therefore a Californian family where the tradition of motorsport is very present.

The decision was made recently to continue his career in stock cars. For this, he will make his debut in the West Series within the family team with Chris Diederich as crew chief. Diederich who has a long experience in the West Series with three career victories since he was for example the crew chief of Sean Woodside in 1999 when he won the championship for BMR. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
n/a  n/a 

No. 84 Bradley Erickson (Naake-Klauer Motorsports) 

West, arca, irwindale
Bradley Erickson will make his ARCA West debut this weekend. Photo Courtesy of Bradley Erickson Racing via Vincent Delforge.

The third newcomer this week in the West Series is Bradley Erickson. A young pilot born in 2006 hailing from Phoeniz, AZ. He drives Pro Late Models on Californian tracks for Naake-Klauer Motorsports. He therefore already has a good knowledge of the Irwindale track.

He will be accompanied by his crew chief in Late Models Tony Caputo with whom he has just won at Kern County on June 18th. Caputo also has a good experience in the West Series including at Irwindale, having obtained two top-10 finishes as crew chief of Johnny Borneman, III in the last two years. Note that Erickson had participated in two races of the BMR Driver Academy in 2021 with respectively a third position and a victory in Bakersfield. He has therefore already been able to drive an ARCA West type car. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
n/a  n/a 

No. 88 Bridget Burgess (BMI Racing)  

The young Australian has just obtained two top-10s on the road circuits of Portland and Sonoma. No wonder because we know her driving skills on this type of track. On the other hand, this year it has not been successful in oval races. It will be her fifth start at Irwindale, which is the oval track where she has the most experience. Will she get her first top-10 on oval this year? 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale   
25       0        0        7        0        7th (2x)         4 starts, best result : 12th (2x)   

No. 99 Cole Moore (Bill McAnally Racing)  

Moore is still chasing his first win and we can tell the pressure is starting to weigh on his shoulders. Because his driving is becoming more and more aggressive. While aggressive driving can be beneficial in certain situations, too much aggressive driving is harmful.

We have seen this during the last races and more particularly in Sonoma where he really had a good opportunity to win the race. Result with three out of five races outside the top-10, it is starting to hurt in the fight for the championship. He is good at Irwindale as shown by his second place last March. This race may be the right one, provided you don’t rush. 

Starts        Wins        Top5        Top10        Pole        Best result        At Irwindale  
22        0        6        12        0        2nd      3 starts, best result: 2nd    

Final notes   

– Stafford Smith, who raced in March, will be absent due to his engineering work at Andretti Autosport in Indy Light. The series rolling this weekend in Mid-Ohio. 

-Who will be the 201st winner in the history of the West Series? The 200th being Jake Drew at Portland in the previous race of the 2022 season.   

-Which of Lewis Moore will be the 24th different winner for Bill McAnally Racing and will win the team’s 99th victory (100th if you include the 2003 All-Star Showdown)? 

– If Tanner Reif or Trevor Huddleston doesn’t win the race, who will be the 18th different winner since 1999 at Irwindale?  

To all these questions and many more, we will have the answers this Saturday. 

Vincent Delforge
Vincent Delforge
Born in 1957 in Belgium, it was after a trip at the age of seven that my love for NASCAR caught hold of me! It was the 1964 World 600 in Charlotte. Since NASCAR it's my life! A large collection of objects and papers make up my personal little NASCAR museum. Passionate about the history and statistics of NASCAR, I have contributed to numerous magazines and websites mainly in French language (Europe and Canada). Those websites included,, and One of my greatest pride is my full-time collaboration at from 2003 to 2021. Today I continue to write for fun.


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