By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
After starting fifth in Saturday’s race at Southern National Motorsports Park, Joey Iest and the No. 54 team seemed to have a special night brewing. After a disappointing day at Sonoma in the second race of the West Series, Iest came back east looking for retribution and that was just what he got.
Iest worked his way up to third by the time the first caution of the day was displayed on lap 52. He was battling with a loose racecar and shuffled back to seventh when the caution was displayed for the first break of the evening. Derek Smith and crew worked on the handling on the car and found themselves back to the third position by the second break caution of the night. With the final stage of the race approaching the team opted for four tires, fuel, and more trackbar adjustments on the No. 54.
During the final run of the night, Iest would run with second as Mason Diaz fell from the front for the first time of the night. He wasn’t able to catch the No. 18 of Sammy Smith for the lead but managed to hold onto second, his career-best finish in the ARCA Menards Series East.
“We had a really good car tonight,” said Iest. “Our car was pretty fast, in that first run I kind of burned the tires up and we kind of lost it and a few spots, I think we were like seventh, and then we made some really good changes on that pit stop. We could somewhat keep up, kind of see him but we couldn’t keep up with him in those last 30 laps and he just took off on us. Thank you to Derek (Smith), David Gilliland, and everyone at David Gilliland Racing for a great car!”
Iest has the second most top-five finishes in 2021, second to points leader Sammy Smith. The ARCA Menards Series East heads to Iowa Speedway where for the first time since Dover, Iest will have a teammate. Thad Moffitt and Iest will team up in the final three races of the season as David Gilliland Racing looks to make a run at Smith for the ARCA East championship. The veteran status for Moffitt will definitely be a help in the final three races as Iest has never raced at Bristol, Milwaukee, or Iowa and Moffitt has.
Photo: Brandon Zumbach