Thursday, August 26, 2021

ARCA West 2021 At Irwindale: Race Recap

#ARCA West 2021 At Irwindale: Race Recap By Nascarvd Nascarvédé

Three in a Row for Jesse Love at Irwindale

Bridget Burgess lets the Leader Jesse Love Pass on Inside
Courtesy of Diego Alvarado)


Irwindale, CA (August 21, 2021) - Jesse Love seems to have found the perfect recipe on the half mile at Irwindale Speedway.  In three races here, he had the perfect score, not letting anyone but him visit Victory Lane. This second victory this season in the NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 PRESENTED BY SUNRISE FORD allows him to extend his lead in the ARCA Menards West Series championship as he is now 11 points ahead of his teammate Cole Moore and 14 over rookie Jake Drew.



The practice / qualifying session had nevertheless reserved a nice surprise for us with the pole of Paul "PJ" Pedroncelli, Jr. The latter having achieved a final lap in 18.424 seconds (97.699 mph) allowing him to snatch a pole for 67 thousandths against Jesse Love. A session disrupted by two accidents. If that of Mariah Boudrieau was not too serious since the Performance P-1 Motorsports team led by crew chief Dave McKenzie managed to make a makeshift repair. “We made repairs. It wasn't 100% because the frame rail was rolled over” said Joe Nava, the owner. It was not the same for the Colombian rookie Sebastian Arias whose Toyota n° 5 entered by Bill McAnally Racing was not repairable in the allotted time, barely two and a half hours before the start of the race. . Much to his disappointment, he had to forfeit. He will have to wait until the race in Las Vegas to make his first career start in the ARCA Menards West Series.


Finally, it should be noted that Ryan Partridge returned to service at the last minute by taking the wheel of the n°9 Ford of Bruncati Racing to replace the unfortunate rookie Dean Thompson, forced to stay at home after having tested positive for COVID-19. Ryan, who has been Dean's spotter since the start of the season, had not been in a West race since the final at Bakersfield in 2018.


The 198th poleman in the history of the West Series since its inception in 1954 couldn't enjoy it much, being overtaken by local specialist Trevor Huddleston as soon as the green flag waved. Huddleston followed like his shadow by Jesse Love and Jake Drew. The first caution intervening in the fourth lap following a spun from the Japanese Hiroyuki Ueno. A trick that he masters to perfection since he does it at least one per race! Fortunately, without damage for the driver of Ford n° 38 entered by John Wood.


At the restart, Trevor Huddleston leaves no one the possibility of taking the leadership from him by perfectly controlling his closest pursuers. At lap 11, Paul Pedroncelli, P.J.'s father, joins the pitlane, with a problem with the brakes. The brakes will be in question a lot during this race. The leader started to complain about them around the 60th lap. The second caution will be caused by Johnny Borneman III whose Ford n° 8 goes around in turn 1 following the puncture of his right front tire. The heat dissipated by the brake disc is the cause of this problem. It is funny to note that the misfortunes of Borneman make the happiness of Todd Souza who receives the free pass. As a reminder, in the first race at Irwindale this year, Borneman and Souza crashed as they crossed the finish line.


In front, things are going fast, very very fast since there are already only the first seven drivers remaining in the leader's lap. The third caution caused by Eric “Bubba” Nascimento, for the same reason as Borneman previously, will do the peloton good. The Officials took the opportunity to combine it with the five-minute break at the halfway point. Partridge receives the free pass.


The restart was given on lap 80 with still Huddleston leading ahead of Love, Jake Drew, Joey Iest, P.J. Pedroncelli who completed the top-5. But very quickly the driver of the blue and orange Ford of Bruncati Racing will feel a big weakness in his brakes. On lap 88 Jesse Love took the lead. Trevor Huddleston will do everything to keep in touch. Brian Kaminski, whose his first start on a short track, caused the fourth caution by hitting the wall in turn 4. Jesse Love perfectly mastered the restart on the 114th lap even if behind him, the threat no longer comes from Huddleston. who begins to lose positions, but by the teammate of the latter, the rookie Jake Drew. Joey Iest, winner in Colorado, is also showing more and more threat. Cole Moore transiently enters the top-5 against P.J. Pedroncelli, but that will only be an illusion. Moore also having problems with overheating his brakes.


One of the highlights of the race came on lap 131 when Huddleston came to a stop on the backstretch. Losing three laps before being able to rejoin the pack. New disillusionment for the one who had won his first career victory here in 2019. The 2021 season is cruel to him. If he manages to snatch tenth position at the end of the race, in the championship, after the mid-season, he is now seventh, 27 points behind the leader. This neutralization made the happiness of Takuma Koga who benefited from his second consecutive free pass and came back in the lead lap. Thanks to this he will obtain his best result of the season with the eighth position at the lowering of the checkered flag.


At the restart, Jesse Love, well established in command, controls his closest pursuers while sparing his Toyota Camry n ° 16. John Wood, who had been doing a good race in the top10 until then, fell to 15th position due to electrical problems. The last yellow flag comes on the 147th lap when Bridget Burgess goes into a spin on turn 2 causing a final tightening of positions. It is abandonment, rear end problem.


Everything will play out during the overtime ! Not really.


Jesse Love eventually won the race, the fifth in his career, the 98th in the West Series for BMR including 16 in 30 races at Irwindale, ahead of Jake Drew and P.J. Pedroncelli who finished the race strong. P.J. equalizing his career best result at Sonoma at the start of the season. The top-5 is completed by Joey Iest and Ryan Partridge who demonstrate that he has lost none of his talent by perfectly replacing Dean Thompson.


Jesse credits his success on this oval with experience gained here in the past. “I don’t know if it’s easy as much as it is that I’ve been running this track for a long time.” he said. “I've been here in Super Lates and ARCA cars. My first real shot with Toyota Racing was here in the combine. ” The 16-year-old Californian joins the club of three-time winners in a row at Irwindale with Jason Bowles, Brendan Gaughan and Todd Gilliland.


Cole Moore, Todd Souza, Takuma Koga, Eric Nascimento and Trevor Huddleston follow from sixth to tenth position. Canadian Amber Balcaen had a serious run but failing in 11th place just ahead of veteran Bobby Hillis, Jr.


Some news from Bobby Hillis, Jr. that we had highlighted a few days ago (see his interview : Bobby Hillis, Jr. The ultimate underdog! : I asked him how his race went.


Vincent Delforge: How did the practice/qualifying session go ?


Bobby Hillis, Jr.: “Practice is never really very great on older tires but I’ve been doing it for so long that I’m just used to it. I generally only buy one set of tires and I save them for the race. Running on older tires over the years has taught me some pretty good car control and let’s me know what the car will be like at the end of the race. We still have some crash damage to the rear bumper from Phoenix and it doesn’t quite fit the template exactly”


VD: During the race, the car seemed difficult in the middle of the turn. The suspension seemed to sag in the front right, especially at the end of the race. What happened?


BH: “As I get more accustomed to the car I’m pushing it more and more and picking up more speed. We were more than a second a lap faster this time compared with the Fourth of July race in racing conditions. It’s something that we need to look at but I suspect that the right front spring is a little bit too soft. I also lost the brake pedal for a while in the middle of the race. I tend to trail brake (my road racing experience) and that puts more heat in the brakes. I quit doing it, let the car roll the middle, and the brakes came back”


VD: Finally, Satisfied with the 12th pos.? Was the top10 possible?


BH: “Ummm, ya, pretty disappointed with 12th. Like I said quite a bit faster in racing conditions compared with the Fourth of July but we were two positions worse in the finishing order. Really felt like we should’ve been 7-8. Not as many cars fell out compared to July either and that was a big contributor as well”


VD: Now direction Portland for the last road circuit of the season, the top10 is a realistic goal?


BH: “I’m a seven time ASA Western Division road race champion. With the new car we just got from Levin Racing I believe that we have what we need to possibly even get a top 5! Really looking forward to it and I just hope that the car will perform well”


Next race September 10 at the Portland International Raceway, Portland, OR, the second and last road track of the season. The West has already performed there five times but the last time was in 2012. A track where for once statistics do not put BMR at the top of the list. Indeed, the team based in Roseville has never won here. Conversely, his great rival Bob Bruncati has one success there in 2011 with Luis Martinez, Jr. Dean Thompson will be back in the 51. Dave Smith will be at the wheel of the n° 77 of PP1M that Mariah Boudrieau will find on the Las Vegas Bullring. Race where we will have the pleasure of seeing Rich DeLong, III, whose last start was in Sonoma in 2019.


Full race results on Racing-Reference:


The driver standings:


Bobby Hillis, Jr. in Front of Paul Pedroncelli
Courtesy of Steve Himelstein)

Jesse Love gets out of his Car to Celebrate his Victory
(Courtesy of Diego Alvarado)

Takuma Koga & the rest of the peloton avoid Eric Nascimento
(Courtesy of Diego Alvarado)



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