Thursday, June 3, 2021

ARCA West 2021 at Sonoma (Race 2 of 9): Race preview

ARCA West 2021 at Sonoma (Race 2 of 9): Race preview <div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="" style="display: block; padding: 1em 0; text-align: center; "><img alt="" border="0" width="320" data-original-height="800" data-original-width="1500" src=""/></a></div> by Nascarvd Nascarvédé

June 5, 2021, General Tire 200 at Sonoma Raceway (50 laps/126 miles)

#ARCA West 2021 at Sonoma (Race 2 of 9): Race preview

This Saturday we will finally be reviewing the West Series for its second race of the season. We've been waiting for this for a long time. The season opener took place on March 12 in Phoenix!


The winding 2.52 mile (12-turn) California route will be bathed in sunshine for an intense day. Indeed, the only one-hour practice session also serves as a qualifying session. This will take place between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm (PT). And the race is scheduled for 2:00 pm (PT or 5:00 pm ET). You have to be quick but also avoiding mechanical problems or accidents. Because there will be very little time for any repairs before the start of the race. A 50-lap race with a break at or near the conclusion of Lap 25. Last year the race was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Fortunately this year, the tradition of the combined weekend between the Cup Series and the West is back. Speaking of the Cup Series, among the entry list is rookie Chase Briscoe. We will come back to this in more detail later.



Let's talk about stats first. It will be the 986 race since the inception of the West Series in 1954 and the 42nd here in Sonoma. The West has been there since 1969, including 9 combined Cup / West races between 1989 and 1997. When the two series had the same technical regulations. Curiously, the Californian road track has always refused to Bill McAnally Racing. The Roseville team failing several times in 2nd position! Will this year be the right one?


The competition will be tough even though the entry list only has 22 cars. BMR riders lacking experience on this track (despite the BMRDA day that just took place there). And several road ringers will be present for their annual race in West. But why only 22 cars? For some incomprehensible reason, the ARCA has scheduled a race in its national series on Friday, June 4, on another road track, the one in Mid-Ohio. Really a stupid decision. Especially when you see the entry list of only 16 cars… One and only race this weekend would have been better. It would have made it possible to have at least thirty cars. And many ARCA national series drivers would have preferred to show their talents in front of the Cup Series teams. I'm thinking for example of Ty Gibbs, Corey Heim, Drew Dollar or Nick Sanchez.


So, it's time to see in detail the entry list for the race that interests us, that of Sonoma!


#4 Dylan Lutpon

Recently when he competed in the BMRDA in Thunderhill, I had no idea that this was the harbinger of his arrival in the famous team from Roseville, CA. Indeed Dylan has always been a "competitor" of BMR since he drove for the great rival Bob Bruncati! It will also be an opportunity to see an unusual number on a BMR car, number 4. You have to go back to a race at Mesa Marin in 1994 and it was Bill McAnally himself who wore it! Dylan on a road circuit is almost guaranteed to have a very good result. He has several top 5s including a 3rd position at Sonoma in 2014. His crew chief will be J.R. Norris, who will be the first race in this position in the West Series.


#6 Trevor Huddleston

A 10th position to start the season in Phoenix. It's also his career best result at Sonoma in 2019. But Bruncati Racing already has 4 victories on this circuit. But Trevor needs to raise his level on the road. He made a 5th position last year at Tooele but the competition was weak. With Bill Sedgwick as crew chief, he will be perfectly supported to aim for the top5.


#7 Takuma Koga

In Phoenix he showed that with a very good car he could find his way to the top 10 despite strong opposition. However, it could not materialize due to an accident at the end of the race. This car I'm talking about is Jerry Pitts Racing #7. A few years ago in the K&N Pro Series, this team under his former management Jefferson Pitts Racing was almost unbeatable on the road circuit both East and West. Takuma carried out tests. He's ready !


#9 Jake Drew

He's a rookie and he's not unworthy in Phoenix. Bruncati Racing is a team renowned for the excellence of its cars and for having always had very good rookies. He just had a difficult end to the race in Phoenix otherwise the top 10 was within his reach. Besides, Jeff Schrader, his crew chief, is used to dealing with rookies. He had taken Dylan Lupton to the ROTY title in 2013 for example or Sean Woodside on Victory Lane several times in his first year in West in 1997. Jeff, he's a man of experience. But it's especially on the short track that you should see Jake show all his talents.


#13 Todd Souza

The veteran surprised us in Phoenix by playing with the best. His 8th position can almost be considered a disappointment. His new Ford, gearing up with DGR Racing help, looks like a formidable machine. Road tracks, Todd, he likes it. He made his West Series debut in 2006 at Sonoma where he got a nice 6th position. This will be his 13th race in the West Series on this circuit where he has already obtained 5 top10s. His only victory was obtained at another road track, Tooele in 2008. With his faithful friend and crew chief Michael Munoz, CCR is really in a position to aim for a top3 in the championship and above all to find his way back to Victory Lane. Unfortunately, he couldn't find the time to answer my questions, focusing on preparing his car. So if it's to win the race, I will say he made the right choice!


#14 Chase Briscoe 

He made a quick stint in the West Series in 2013 with 3 races for BMR (one top10). He comes here with the primary goal of obtaining track time on the road circuit to better prepare for his Cup Series race. He drives for Stewart Haas Racing for those who would live on the planet Mars. He arrives with his Cup team as Johnny Klausmeier will be his crew chief. The car is entered under the banner of Chad Bryant with technical support from the SHR of course!


#16 Jesse Love 

The 2020 West champion is aiming for a second consecutive title and for that a good performance in Sonoma is essential. Due to the absence of Ty Gibbs, Corey Heim, .. he arrives here as the virtual leader of the championship. The goal will be to stay in this position after the checkered flag has dropped! With crew chief John Camilleri he will try to use his recent experience acquired in Sonoma during the BMRDA meeting.


#17 Zane Smith

Excellent driver who rarely comes to the West Series. But each time he's a candidate for the top 5 or even for victory. And then he drives a Chevrolet prepared at Steve McGowan's. And that’s a guarantee of quality. David Mayhew had taken pole and won at Sonoma in 2015 driving the #17. He finds Sean Samuels as crew chief as in Phoenix in 2020.


#19 Eric Nascimento

This is Bubba, his nickname, which debuts in the West Series. He participates in a few BMRDA races this year and has just done the Sonoma meeting. It will therefore not be in uncharted territory. He's the son of Mike Nascimento who was crew chief for Luis Tyrrell and Dylan Garner a few years ago in the West Series. And who returns to service with his son. Bubba is a big guy and aiming for the top 10 will already be a good goal.


#27 Bobby Hillis, Jr.

A road race isn't where you really expect to see Bobby. But he runs the entire season and comes first and foremost to have fun. And he's one of my favorite underdogs! The famous Ed Ash will serve as the crew chief.


#31 Paul Pedroncelli

P.J.'s dad is going to make his West series debut. He who has always accompanied his son, even serving as his crew chief between 2008 and 2010. Pedroncelli Racing has just had a test day in Sonoma. Its crew chief will be Mike Regelman.


#33 Paul "P.J." Pedroncelli, Jr.

His 2019 return to the West Series in Sonoma after an 8-year hiatus was nearly crowned with top10 success. P.J. Finally failed at the 13th position not without having demonstrated an excellent level on the road at Sonoma. This year he had a good start to the season, finishing 11th in Phoenix. He has just completed a test day in Sonoma in order to better prepare for this race. This will be his 5th career race on this road track. Like in Phoenix, he will have the excellent Ty Joiner as his crew chief.


#42 Tony Toste

Following a professional arrangement based on the “win / win” principle Tony changes team, leaving PP1M for a second car in collaboration between Steve McGowan and Bruce Cook. Hence the #42 instead of the #31 that the team used in recent years in West with its 2nd car. Amber Slagle will be his crew chief. We saw her in this position with Kyle Sieg in 2020 and Parker Retzlaff in the East Series this year.


#51 Dean Thompson

He's the other rookie from Bruncati Racing. His first race in Phoenix was a bit tricky, never having the speed. But he was studious. Here it will be quite different and his experience on the road circuit is reduced to say the least. Travis Thirkettle is its crew chief.


#52 Ryan Philpott

But what a pleasure to see Ryan in the West Series again. He had done 34 races between 2007 and 2013 with 7 top10s on the clock. This will be his 4th race in Sonoma, the last going back to 2012. He certainly has no top10 in Sonoma but always finishes in the leader’s lap. He's a constant driver and could use his experience to surprise us. We find him with his faithful #52. Number with which he has spent most of his career. Recall that he's the older brother of Justin Philpott, also a former West Series driver. His father David raced in the NASCAR SouthWest Series a long time ago. Chuck Dozhier will be his crew chief.


#54 Joey Iest

In the East Series he rides for the DGR team and in the West, he meets the Klauer-Naake Motorsports team. The team of Mike Naake (also crew chief) and Tom Klauer has already enjoyed success in Sonoma with David Gilliland as a driver in 2012. This is to say the beautiful connection that exists between its two entities. Tom Klauer having also obtained 2 top10 in Sonoma during his racing career. Joey who is having an excellent season in East this year with 4 top10s out of 4 races including 3 top5. But he's always been unsuccessful in the West Series so far, however he's always very quick. Provided that this time bad luck leaves him alone!


#68 Rodd Kneeland

The veteran comes to do his annual race on a track he knows by heart. He has to be the most successful driver in Sonoma of all the drivers in this race. And this all categories combined. But with its own small family structure it's difficult to perform well in a single race. Especially since the chassis used is starting to age. Its crew chief will be Chris Drysdale


#77 Dave Smith

Road ringer by excellence Dave Smith has 11 career races (3 top10s) in the West Series and all on the road circuit with the exception of one race at the All American Speedway in 2014. He has two top10s at Sonoma including a 5th position. For a driver who still has a car from a small team, that's great. He will drive for PP1M this weekend and also in the next road race in Portland. We should therefore find #77 in the top10 or even better when the checkered flag is waved at the end of the 50 laps! Its crew chief will be Dave McKenzie


#80 Brian Kaminsky

He made his West Series debut last year on the Tooele, Utah road track. And for a start it was a success with 2 top10s (8th and 9th) with his own car. Dereck Copeland will once again be his crew chief.


#86 Tim Spurgeon

What would a West Series race at Sonoma be without Tim Spurgeon? He has been there since 2010. It will be his 8th race on a track he knows like the back of his hand. He has already finished at the door of the top10 several times (twice 11th and once 12th). His goal will be to achieve it this time around. He has already arrived there on another road track, that of Tooele with an 8th position in 2016. His crew chief will be the 2007 West Series champion Mike David.


#88 Bridget Burgess

With a more recent chassis and designed in part for the road racing by Robert Pawlowski, Bridget finally has a machine which should allow her to show her talent. She's used to driving all types of cars on the Tooele road track and she just did a test day in Sonoma. She might surprise us and the top10 is in my opinion a realistic goal this weekend. Her mother, Sarah, will be her crew chief as always. Will the small "Australian" structure make life difficult for Americans?

#99 Cole Moore

With a BMR car, the top10 is the minimum goal to achieve. Cole recently attended the BMRDA meetings in Thunderhill and Sonoma. He has therefore prepared well with a car very similar to the one he will be driving this weekend. Mario Isola will be his crew chief. He will be a contender for victory. Now it's time for the show.

Have a good race! All results here.

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