By Jerry Jordan, Editor
What happens when you’re a fourth-generation racer who’s been behind a steering wheel since age four and now living with a NASCAR Hall of Fame member who has helped build the careers of champions like Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson? Just ask Landen Lewis, who joins Bill McAnally Racing (BMR) for six races in the ARCA Menards Series West.
“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 16-year-old from Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina makes his first start with BMR on Saturday at Southern California’s Irwindale Speedway in the NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Motorsports Hall of Fame.
“It’s definitely a big deal,” Lewis said, explaining that his mentor also drove the No. 16 NAPA car and truck. “It’s definitely pretty cool to drive the 16 and for Bill McAnally with his great record in the ARCA Series and now in the trucks.
“The biggest goal I have once I get there is to get to know the team and create that bond right off. And another pretty cool part of it is the crew chief, Charlie Wilson, I’ve worked with him in the past, so that’s pretty cool to have him as my crew chief because we already have a bond with each other and then for us to get better as time goes by.”
Hornaday said, “This is a pretty cool opportunity for Landen. I have known Bill (McAnally) for a long time and I think this is a perfect fit for Landen. I look forward to seeing him carrying my old colors and number with NAPA. Landen is a type of driver when put to the test he always exceeds our expectations. I am excited to see what Landen can do with this team and these new tracks he will be going to.”
Lewis joins BMR with an ARCA West win among two series starts he has already made this year. He won at Kern County Raceway Park near Bakersfield, California on April 23. In addition, he qualified second and finished 14th in the ARCA West event on the road course at Sonoma Raceway on June 11. His racing resume also includes a win and two top-fives in three starts last year in the ARCA Menards Series.
Lewis is the latest in a long line of racers that Ron Hornaday Jr. has helped build a racing career. And the 16-year-old is incredibly humble about his good fortune. Lewis took time out of his schedule prior to heading out to Irwindale to chat with Kickin’ the Tires, explaining that the opportunity to race with a legendary team owner like McAnally will put him in somewhat of the spotlight, especially if he makes a strong showing. And while he is living in and focused on the moment, Lewis hasn’t lost sight of the long-term – about 18 months from now when he’ll be old enough to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“Hopefully, it does get me on the radar but our number one goal is to build a bond and do as best as we can as a team and learn together,” Lewis said. “My goal after being with McAnally is to get something else together and run some more races for them or whoever it is. It’s like I keep saying, I need to build a notebook and have a big notebook when I am able to run the truck series and go run these bigger tracks when I am 18 and can show up to the track and be more confident. Hopefully, this leads to opening up more doors.”
For many young racers, the way they make it to the next level is through money. In Lewis’s case, he’s been racing since he was four years old. For four generations, his family has been in the sport for decades and he has seen the triumphs and tribulations. It’s why, he said, he works on his own stuff and even more special when he gets a win – because he worked for it.
“It makes me feel good because I have worked for what I have,” Lewis said. “You know, I like to be able to work. I live in Mooresville, North Carolina with Candice Hornaday and Ron Hornaday and whoever else I can stay with. I am 16 years old. I work on my own stuff and I just try to be around racing and learn as much as I can. It’s really cool knowing that if they ask me to pick up a wrench, I can pick up a wrench and help them because I have that knowledge.”
It is also not lost on him that he has one of the best NASCAR truck series drivers of all time giving him pointers and helping him develop in racing. After all this time, and given his track record, Hornaday must see something in Lewis that reminds him of other racers.
“It’s pretty cool to have him (Hornaday) in my corner because I can go to him and ask him questions and, you know, 95 percent he has an answer every time,” Lewis said. “He teaches you everything you need to know to be able to make it into racing, you know, work hard, work on your own cars, that’s his biggest rule and I 100 percent agree with it. He’s huge in my racing career but he has helped a lot of people like Kevin Harvick, like Jimmie Johnson, Ross Chastain, he’s helped a lot of amazing drivers and it’s a pleasure for him to help me.
“I’m definitely going to take advantage of the opportunity, take every moment and breathe it in and just be thankful.”
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF LANDEN LEWIS: CLICK HERE
RACE INFO: NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Motorsports Hall of Fame July 2, 2022, Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, Calif. Streaming on FloRacing at 10 p.m. EST and tape delay on USA Network, July 10 at 1 p.m. EST