ARCA Menards Series West: 2024 Bakersfield Race Review

By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires

The second of twelve races of the ARCA Menards Series West season, the MMI Oil Workers 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Motorsports Hall of Fame, contested on the half-mile at Kevin Harvick’s Kern Raceway, Bakersfield, CA, concluded with the first victory career of young Kole Raz.

Kole raz earned his first career arca menards series west win at kevin harvick's kern raceway.
(Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delrfoge)

The driver of the No. 5 Jerry Pitts Racing Toyota was taking part in his third career race and was able to get the better of Trevor Huddleston in the very last corner of the race and take the checkered flag with a lead of 58 thousandths!

However, the race was dominated for a long time by pole sitter Tyler Reif. But the second segment was more complicated for the Central Coast Racing driver. Huddleston, High Point Racing, taking an advantage that we thought was definitive before seeing its lead melt away like snow in the sun during the last 15 laps.

The race was very lively in the pack and there was no shortage of twists and turns. Here is the full summary.


Friday, April 19, an optional practice was offered to pilots. Tyler Reif was fastest in 18.531 sec (97.135 mph) ahead of Jack Wood (Bill McAnally Racing) and Robbie Kennealy (Kennealy Keller Motorsports).

Kole raz earned his first career arca menards series west win at kevin harvick's kern raceway.
(Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delrfoge)

It was also an opportunity for Sean Hingorani to test his new car, the No. 24 from Sigma Performance Services. Indeed, Hingorani and HRE parted ways a few days before the second race of the season. The 2023 champion being directly in the top-five in fourth position just ahead of Nick Joanides (Jan’s Racing).

On Saturday, Tyler Reif was again the fastest ahead of Kole Raz and Jack Wood. Kennealy and Joanides completing the top-five.

Continuing his momentum, Reif obtained pole position, his third in his career, with a lead of 182 thousandths over Jack Wood and 183 over Raz. Trevor Huddleston completed the second row. Hingorani and Eric Nascimento, Jr. (Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports) occupying the third row. A session marked by the accident of rookie Danica Dart (Kennealy Keller Motorsports) and the engine failure of her teammate Robbie Kennealy. For both drivers, a big disappointment because it was impossible to take part in the race. Tony Huffman (Fierce Creature Racing) did not take part in the qualifying session.

Green flag!!

21 cars take the start with rookie Henry Barton (Nascimento Joiner Motorsports) starting from the back of the pack, he who was initially 14th on the starting grid.

Kole raz earned his first career arca menards series west win at kevin harvick's kern raceway.
(Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delrfoge)

Tyler Reif maintains his pole position advantage ahead of Jack Wood who takes over Raz. Huffman heads straight to the pitlane to perform his planned start and park. Once out of the car he resumes his place as crew chief of his owner/teammate Bobby Hillis, Jr. (Fierce Creature Racing). Barton stopped on the second lap following insurmountable vibration problems.

The end of the third lap was marked by the accident between Johnny Borneman III (Lowden-Jackson Motorsports) who partly climbed the front of the Toyota of Takuma Koga (Jerry Pitts Racing) in turn 4. The Japanese’s motor hood was returning to his windshield. The damage is significant and he will lose many laps to get his car repaired. Unlike Borneman III who escaped almost without damage. However, although aesthetically the Ford No. 41 fares better, its handling is seriously compromised. For both drivers, the rest of the race promises to be long.

At the restart on the eighth lap Tyler Reif retained his leadership after a good defense and a small contact against Jack Wood who came up to him on the outside line.

Long Green Flag Run

Then begins a long run under the green flag (52 laps) which will stretch the pack of cars.

Kole raz earned his first career arca menards series west win at kevin harvick's kern raceway.
(Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delrfoge)

On lap 32 Reif was 1.5 seconds ahead of a trio of Wood, Huddleston and Raz. The three drivers being bumper to bumper in just three tenths of a second. Hingorani is 3 seconds behind.

On the 45th lap, Reif slightly increased his lead to 1.7 seconds over rookie Kole Raz who was able to take the advantage over Wood (3rd) and Huddleston (4th). The rest of the top 10 is completed by Hingorani, Joanides, Nascimento, Mason Mitchell (Sigma Performance Services), Kyle Keller (Kennealy Keller Motorsports) and Todd Souza (Central Coast Racing).

On the 36th lap, Coky Kiemele (Performance P-1 Motorsports) overtook Ryan Philpott (Philpott Racing) by going on the inside but at the same time Nick Joanides, who was a lap ahead of them, also went on the inside of Kiemele . The latter finds himself sandwiched between Joanides and Philpott and cannot avoid contact with Philpott. The front of Kiemele’s Toyota was badly damaged and he had to retire. However, this incident does not cause a yellow flag.

Mitchell who will return to his pit box definitively on the 58th lap following an overheating problem. P.J. Pedroncelli, Jr (Rodd Racing) climbs into the top10.

The second yellow flag arrived on the 60th lap following the puncture of the right front tire of John Moore (Naake-Klauer Motortsports) who narrowly avoided contact with the outside wall of Turn 1 but spun on Turn 2. He was 12th . Souza, 10th, benefits from the free pass.

Restart on the 67th lap and no big upheaval in the ranking.

Midway Break.

10 laps later the yellow flag is raised to signal the halfway point.

Kole raz earned his first career arca menards series west win at kevin harvick's kern raceway.
(Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delrfoge)

A five-minute break is observed with adjustments and the possible change of two tires for the drivers. Eric Johnson, Jr. (Bill McAnally Racing) receives the free pass.

The ranking is as follows: 1) Reif, 2) Raz, 3) Huddleston, 4) Wood, 5) Joanides, 6) Hingorani, 7) Nascimento, 8) Keller, 9) Pedroncelli, Jr. 10) Souza, 11) Johnson, Jr., 12) Borneman III (-1 lap), 13) Philpott (-2), 14) Koga (-3), 15) Moore (-3), 16), David Smith (Shockwave Racing) (- 5) and 17) Hillis, Jr. (-6). Mitchell (out), Kiemele (out), Barton (out), Huffman (DNS), Dart (DNS) and Kennealy (DNS) all being in the garage.

At the 82nd lap restart with Raz who very temporarily takes command of the race against Reif. But the latter authoritatively regained first position on the 83rd lap.

Run to Checkered Flag

There will be no more caution flags until the end of the race and the ranking will change significantly as the tires and brakes wear out. Because Kern Raceway is a half-mile oval that is very hard on the brakes. And Jack Wood, who had already experienced a complicated end to the first segment due to a soft brake pedal, will once again suffer the same inconvenience. The overheating of his front discs surely explains the puncture he suffered four laps from the end when he had just lost positions, from fourth to eighth. Forced to go through his pit box, he finished the race in a modest 12th position.

Kole raz earned his first career arca menards series west win at kevin harvick's kern raceway.
(Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delrfoge)

He’s not the only one having problems. Tyler Reif will lead until the 106th lap before losing in quick succession to Huddleston then to Raz. Reif’s tires having lost efficiency.

Huddleston, once leader on the 107th lap, will open up a lead of maximum 1.3 seconds against Raz on the 115th lap. Then the trend will gradually reverse. Kole Raz came back to one second on the 120th lap then half a second on the 127th lap. Thanks to the late drivers who must be overtaken, Trevor Huddleston manages to regain a few tenths but from the 135th lap Kole Raz will once again return to the rear bumper of the leader.

Between the 139th lap and the last lap of the race the gap between the two drivers will always be less than two tenths. Sometimes only a few thousandths! the two drivers are often side-by-side!

Finally Kole Raz manages to take the advantage in the very last corner at the cost of a small contact with Trevor Huddleston. Sufficient contact to remove the driver of the blue Ford No. 50 from the correct outer racing line. Raz passing under the checkered flag with a lead of 58 thousandths! He wins his first victory and pays no attention to his opponent’s displeasure in the cooldown lap.

 “It was just really good, hard racing. I don’t get opportunities like this very much, but I had to capitalize this for Jerry Pitts and Dustin Ash. They haven’t won a race in such a long time and work hard at the shop to bring good quality cars. That was a little bit more rubbing than I obviously wanted. I hope Trevor knows with how we’ve raced in the past, it’s always been clean. I was just trying to get it there and I was trying to put on a show for the fans.” Raz said.

Tyler Reif, Sean Hingorani and Nick Joanides complete the top-five. Eric Nascimento, Jr., Kyle Keller, P.J. Pedroncelli, Jr., Todd Souza and Eric Johnson, Jr. all securing a spot in the top-10.

In the championship, Sean Hingorani is first with 79 points ahead of Reif (77), Huddleston (70), Wood (69) and Keller (63).

Complete race results :  

The next race on May 31 at Portland International Raceway, Portland, OR, for the Portland 112, the first road race of the season, which is streamed live on FloRacing.

See you Wednesday on Kickin The Tires for the full driver-by-driver reactions and analysis of this Bakersfield race. 

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