Tuesday, June 8, 2021

ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

By Nascarvd Nascarvédé

Chase Briscoe Wins the #ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

What a race !! Crazy even before the start and until the checkered flag.


After securing pole position in the dying seconds of the combined practice / qualifying session for 25 thousandths of a second on Todd Souza, rookie Jake Drew could have a smile. Bruncati Racing, the active team with the most victories in Sonoma (4) had once again demonstrated all its know-how on the hills of Napa Valley. Were the other drivers going to "taste" the exhaust scent of the #9 during the race?


The answer is no.


The first to throw in the towel is the very quick Zane Smith. A motor problem forced him to give up during the pace laps. What a disappointment for the young McGowan Cook Racing driver. Already in Phoenix he had not been able to complete the first lap, caught in an accident. Here he will not even be able to take the start. A start that veteran Rodd Kneeland will manage to take. An additional pace lap being decided by the officials to allow him to leave the pitlane after an incredible last minute repair carried out by his small group of volunteers. They managed to change the transmission in just over an hour.


From the start Todd Souza flies off from the inside line into turn 1. His joy will be short-lived as ARCA officials believe he jumped the start. During this first lap, quite clean in the peloton, Chase Briscoe will first seize the 2nd position at the expense of Jake Drew under the braking of turn 7. The drive through inflicted on Souza, offering him without the slightest effort the leadership of the race even before the end of the first lap.


The efforts of Rodd Kneeland’s #68 team will unfortunately prove to be ineffective. The blue and red Chevrolet came to a stop on the first lap just before turn 7, clutch problem.


The race is restarted with an Imperial Briscoe. It's indeed under the name of Chad Bryant that his #14 is entered here but with the members of his Stewart-Haas Racing Cup Series team, including his crew chief Johnny Klausmeier, there is a doubt that this car was not prepared at SHR? No doubt is not allowed, especially since the front bumper sports the SHR logo. With such means involved, it’s no wonder to see this Ford fly over the race. I will come back to that.


In the 6th lap, Joey Iest was overtaken by his old enemy, Miss Curse… Once again, he had shown all his talent by easily appearing in the top 5. But if it is the other sister, Miss Success, who accompanies him in the East Series, in the West Series, Curse does not let go. Naake-Klauer Motorsports’s Ford # 54 comes to a stop shortly after descending the Carrousel, engine broken… Note that Souza has already climbed from 20th to 13th position in just two laps!


The 3rd green flag, which will last 16 laps, will allow us to witness two things. First the flight of Chase Briscoe who will count up to a 15 seconds margin, followed by the duo Dylan Lupton / Jake Drew. In second, the meteoric rise of Todd Souza from 13th to 4th position. However, there is going to be a lot of action. Souza's muscular overtaking at turn 4 which throws Dave Smith into the dust on lap 12.


Trevor Huddleston's mechanical problem on lap 15. The collision between Jesse Love and Bridget Burgess in the hairpin on lap 16. Bridget who until then had a fantastic race in 5th position. She will start again in 14th position. The battle between Souza and Brian Kaminsky for 4th position on the 17th and 18th laps. Jesse Love's second collision, again in the hairpin, but on Kaminsky this time on lap 21. The puncture of the right front tire and the spun of this same Kaminsky on the 23rd lap. A direct consequence of contact with Love. Forcing the driver of Chevrolet #80 to slow down to rejoin the pitlane.


On lap 26, it was a 5 minute break from the halfway point. The ranking is as follows: Chase Briscoe, Dylan Lupton, Jake Drew, Todd Souza, Cole Moore, Eric Nascimento, Jr., Jesse Love, Dave Smith, Dean Thompson, Tony Toste, PJ Pedroncelli, Tim Spurgeon, Bridget Burgess, Takuma Koga , Bobby Hillis, Jr., Ryan Philpott, 16th, gets the free pass. The rest of the peloton is made up of Trevor Huddleston (-1) and Paul Pedroncelli (-1). Joey Iest, Rodd Kneeland and Zane Smith being out of the race.


After the regulatory 5 minutes, all the drivers join the pace car parked just in front of the entrance to the Carrousel. But impossible to restart for Jesse Love and Dave Smith. They will be pushed by tow trucks to the pit lane. They will resume the track with many laps behind. Their hopes for good results dashed.


At the restart of the second segment, the song is now known, Briscoe slips away in front of Lupton and Drew and the other drivers behind! Eric “Bubba” Nascimento, Jr. Will then come under the spotlights. Even threatening Todd Souza for 4th position. The #13 having to put all his experience to resist the attacks of #19. These two being followed like their shadows by Moore and the surprising rookie Thompson.


On the 31st lap Tony Toste spun before the 4th corner, pushed by P.J. Pedroncelli. No caution. On the next lap, it was Bridget Burgess who spun around the 2nd corner. She was back to 8th. She will restart in 11th position. Everything has to be redone for her. New spun, the 3rd, from Kaminsky at turn 7. Still no caution.


But on lap 35, the 4th yellow was brandished after Toste came to a halt on the climb to Turn 1. Engine broke and the dry grass caught fire from the oil that the #42 had just lost. Huddleston took the opportunity to return to the leader's lap with the free pass.


Far behind with 9 laps from the leader, Jesse Love is back for the restart on lap 39. As usual, Briscoe is the quickest to get started. Behind Souza is overtaken in force in turn 2 by the duo from BMR, Nascimento and Moore. A few seconds later, the driver of CCR’s #13 Ford tried to slip into a hole that didn't exist at the entrance to the 4th corner and sent the rookie Nascimento spinning. In the process, Huddleston did not take advantage of his free pass for long and clung to Tim Spurgeon and the one who waltzed the most during the race, I named Brian Kamisnky! The beginner Paul Pedroncelli then in 13th position receives the free pass. His son P.J. occupying the 7th position by doing faster and faster laps.


Dave Smith takes advantage of this 5th caution to come back but with 10 laps behind, he will not be able to repeat his performance of 2019, namely to obtain a top10.


The new restart tells us nothing new about the leading trio still led by Brisco followed by Lupton and Drew. P.J. wins a position by manly dismissing rookie Dean Thompson.


On lap 42, Nascimento, then 7th, suddenly lost speed and was struck from behind by Smith at Turn 8. He came to a stop less than a lap later, causing the 6th caution. Once again it's Huddleston who benefits from the free pass, he's 13th and last in the leader’s lap.


The green flag will only be waved for less than 15 seconds because Souza, in a big day, makes contact with Lupton who blocks his way and in the wake to avoid the accident Moore swerves to the left and pushes Drew out of the track.


Unfortunately Drew returning to the path takes Smith with him and the two men end up in the gravels. And this is the 7th caution of the day. Fortunately it will be the last but it will extend the race by one more lap by the rule of Overtime. Behind the pace car Souza goes up to Lupton to show him his displeasure. Smith being involved there is no free pass this time around. And these are 13 drivers who will try everything to seize the victory in these last two laps of the race.


But once again Briscoe managed to master the restart and escaped past Lupton who contained Souza and P.J. Pedroncelli who was making the race of his life by holding Moore behind him for 4th position. Trevor Huddleston's Ford #6 body rubs against a tire after yet another contact! He will finish 12th. At the start of the last lap Todd Souza is too wide entering the 1st corner and will lose 2 positions against P.J. and Moore.


Chase Briscoe takes his first West Series victory in his 4th career start. He's 3 seconds ahead of Lupton. Once again preventing Bill McAnally from seeing one of his cars win this Sonoma race which has refused for almost 30 years to his team! It’s even more grieving for Bill, since one of his former drivers is blocking his way to Victory Lane. Indeed the 3 other races that Briscoe has already raced in his West Series career were for BMR in 2013!


Dylan Lupton by finishing 2nd achieves his best performance on the Californian track. As for 3rd, it was the surprising P.J. Pedroncelli who achieved his first podium, but also his first top5 and even better his first top10 in his career! Cole More and Todd Souza complete the top5. The top10 is completed by rookies Dean Thompson and Jake Drew followed by Bridget Burgess who made a good comeback, Ryan Philpott and Bobby Hillis, Jr. The first disappointed is Takuma Koga, 11th after having for many laps sailed in the top10 . Huddleston is 12th followed by debutant Paul Pedroncelli in 13th and last position. All the others having given up in this mad race!


Note that Chase Briscoe flew over the debates during the 51 laps. His best lap time was achieved in 102.775 seconds ahead of Jake Drew in 103.906 sec and Dylan Lupton in 104.081 sec. But he drove on average a good second faster by lap than his main opponents.


With such a result, this race offers us a ranking in the championship, to say the least, surprising. For the first time in his career Todd Souza is leader with 75 points in front of PJ Pedroncelli 74 and Cole Moore 72. Next comes the trio of Bruncati Racing Dean Thompson 67, Trevor Huddleston 66 and Jake Drew 64. The 2020 champion Jesse Love is only 7th with 63 points. The top10 being completed by Bridget Burgess (58), Bobby Hillis, Jr. (54) and Takuma Koga (54). All results here: www.racing-reference.info/entrylist/2021-02/AW/

Next race July 3 on the Irwindale Speedway, CA. We can't wait to be there !


ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’

ARCA West ‘General Tire 200’


Photos credit: Luis Torres, Ryan Hale, Brock Beard

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