ARCA Menards Series West: 2024 Irwindale 1 Race Review

By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires

The fifth race of the 2023 ARCA Menards West Series season, the first of two races for the Irwindale doubleheader, the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by West Coast Stock Car Motorsports Hall of Fame, delivered its verdict with an uncontested victory possible from the 2023 champion Sean Hingorani who takes eight points in one go from the current championship leader Tyler Reif, fifth this Thursday on the Californian half-mile.

Reif therefore maintains a three-point lead over Hingorani before the return leg this Saturday, July 6 for the second 150-lap race, the West Coast Stock Car Motorsports Hall of Fame 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts. At the end of this race, we will reach the halfway point of the season.

Here is the full summary of the July 4 race.

ARCA West Practice/Qualifying

Sean hingorani held off a late charge from teammate isabella robusto to win the arca menards series west race at irwindale speedway.
Photo by Sal Sigala Jr. via Vincent Delforge.

Let us immediately note the withdrawal of the second Fierce Creature Racing car, the No. 0 driven by Tony Huffman. The latter injured his leg a few days ago. He is also replaced as crew chief of his owner/driver Bobby Hillis, Jr.’s car by veteran Ed Ash. We also note the presence of Ron Norman as crew chief of the No. 9 Jan’s Racing car driven by newcomer Mikey Killen.

From the start of practice, drivers with extensive Irwindale Speedway experience stand out and occupy the top of the standings with local hero Trevor Huddleston, first ahead of Jack Wood, Nick Joanides, Tyler Reif and Sean Hingorani. Problem for Robbie Kennealy who breaks his engine and will not be able to take part in the rest of the day.

Unfortunately he is not expected to be there on Saturday either due to lack of a spare engine. Unless a solution is found by then. Problem also for newcomer Rick Goodale who is the victim of an accident. As his car could not be repaired for the race, he was withdrawn. Killen experienced many technical difficulties and was dead last in the practice field.

The qualifying session was very close but it was Tyler Reif who finally took pole position in 18.372 sec (97.975 mph) against Hingorani in 18.447 sec. The second row is occupied by Trevor Huddleston and Jack Wood. Isabella Robusto is fifth ahead of Kyle Keller. Bobby Hillis, Jr. is 17th and last.


Sean hingorani held off a late charge from teammate isabella robusto to win the arca menards series west race at irwindale speedway.
Photo by Ethan Smith via Vincent Delforge.

Once the Ford Mustang serving as pace car moves aside and frees the pack of drivers, the Hingorani machine springs into action and takes the lead from Reif. From the second lap Huddleston will also overtake Reif for second.

The top-five is next after five laps with Hingorani leading ahead of Huddleston, Reif, Robusto and Wood. A top-five which does not change during the first twenty laps. Moment of the race which sees the leader begin to overtake the first drivers behind such as David Smith, Killen, Hillis, Jr. and on the 25th lap Takuma Koga.

If Hingorani flies in the lead with his Venturini Motorsports Toyota, behind the battle rages between the 35th and the 50th lap for second position between Huddleston, Reif and Robusto.

On the 50th lap, Sean Hingorani is 4.7 seconds ahead of the trio of Huddleston, Reif, Robusto. Shortly after, Todd Souza, plagued by mechanical problems, lost a lap on the leaders. It was also shortly after the 50th lap that Kole Raz’s Toyota began to emit smoke.

Raz out!

Kole Raz, the winner of the Bakersfield race, stops on lap 58 causing the first yellow flag of the race. Jerry Pitts Racing driver must retire, rear end issue. The free pass is awarded to Jack Wood, in seventh position, who is experiencing handling difficulties with his Chevrolet which is extremely tight in the center. He and his teammate Eric Johnson, Jr. took the opportunity to go through their pit box to make chassis adjustments. Note that Jaron Giannini brushed the wall hard and also had to repair his car.

The full standings are as follows with Hingorani leading ahead of Huddleston, Reif, Robusto, Nick Joanides, Jake Finch, Wood, Keller (-1), Souza (-1), Jaron Giannini (-1), Johnson, Jr. (-1 ), Koga (-1), Garrett Zacharias (-2), David Smith (-3), Mikey Killen (-3), Hillis, Jr. (-5), Raz (out), Kennealy (DNS), Goodale ( DNS).

The restart was given on the 67th lap and Hingorani retained his first position against Huddleston. Behind Robusto makes an attempt to overtake on the outside line on turn 3 at Reif and the two drivers touch each other. Reif loses his momentum, blocks Joanides and the two drivers are overtaken by Finch.


Sean hingorani held off a late charge from teammate isabella robusto to win the arca menards series west race at irwindale speedway.
Photo by Ethan Smith via Vincent Delforge.

The halfway point, 75th lap, is reached with Hingorani leading with 1.7 seconds ahead of Huddleston and 2.1 seconds over Robusto. The driver of the No. 55 Toyota puts pressure on the driver of the No. 50 Ford. Behind Reif has lost contact and is 3.6 seconds behind, just ahead of Finch from whom he managed to regain fourth position. Joanides follows and Wood loses ground.

Obviously the chassis adjustments did not sufficiently improve the behavior of his car and he complained about it on the radio to his crew chief John Kevin Bellicourt. Behind Giannini has overtaken Keller and finds himself in the lucky dog ​​position in eighth place.

Robusto and Huddleston touched several times and it was Isabella who had the last word and took second position on the 79th lap.

On the 84th lap Jack Wood lost control of his No. 16 and hit the wall on Turn 3 causing the second and last yellow flag of the day. Jaron Giannini, eighth, who drives the No. 23 of Sigma Performance Services benefits from the free pass.

The restart is given on the 93rd lap with Hingorani having to exploit all the racing lines to keep his teammate Robusto behind him. Behind Souza and Hillis have very unstable cars.

On the 100th lap, the classification is as follows with Hingorani leading ahead of Robusto at 1 second, Huddleston, Reif, Joanides, Finch, Giannini, Keller (-1), Koga (-1), Johnson, Jr. (-1), Souza (-1), Zacharias (-2), Killen (-4), Smith (-5), Wood (-6) and Hillis, Jr. (-8).

For Souza, there will be several contacts with the walls during the following laps. Ironically, it was by catching up with his teammate Souza that Tyler Reif lost fourth position to Finch. There are 25 laps left to go. Hillis, Jr. was forced to retire (Handling) after 111 laps. He was 11 laps behind the leaders at the moment. The officials told him that he no longer had sufficient speed.

Robusto Leads the Charge!

Sean hingorani held off a late charge from teammate isabella robusto to win the arca menards series west race at irwindale speedway.
Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge.

From the 125th lap, the trend reverses, Hingorani is no longer systematically the fastest and Isabella Robusto begins to reduce the gap with him. Eight tenths on the 130th lap, then seven tenths on the 135th. Note that Giannini overtook Joanides for sixth position on the 129th lap.

Robusto came back to five tenths of the leader on the 137th lap while behind Finch took third position at Huddleston but far from the leaders since they were sailing almost 9 seconds behind them! Joanides lost a lap on lap 139 and Robusto took the opportunity to gain another tenth of a second on the leader. There are only three tenths left on the 145th lap, then only 278 thousandths on the 146th lap when Robusto tries to go inside Hingorani on the 147th lap in Turns 3 and 4. But she slips a bit.

The gap stabilized and Sean Hingorani will cross the finish line as winner with 456 thousandths ahead of a phenomenal Robusto. Finch third at 8.6 seconds completes the podium. A 100% Venturini Motorsports podium. A first for the team in the West Series.

It is here that Sean Hingorani won his first career victory last year. And to celebrate, he climbed on the fence to greet the crowd!

The rest of the top-10 is completed by Huddleston, Reif, Giannini, Joanides, Keller, Koga and Souza.

“Yeah, it was really fast,” Hingorani told track promoter Tim Huddleston on FloRacing post-race. “Had to work for it there at the end. Congrats to Isabella, she was rolling. Dominant all race, thanks to Kevin Reed Sr. for coming out. Know that he didn’t have to do this but made it happen so really grateful for all my guys and this thing was really fast. I want to say thanks to all you fans. Packed stands, this is a really great show that Tim puts on so just really excited to be at Irwindale, my home track, and be able to get back to victory lane here.”

In the championship Tyler Reif has 249 points, Hingorani 246, Huddleston 222, Wood 220 and Keller 219.

See you Saturday July 6 for the second race of Irwindale, the West Coast Stock Car Motorsports Hall of Fame 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts.

Leave a Reply

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