JAKE DREW DOMINATES IRWINDALE ARCA WEST 150 – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA, Jul. 2 – Homegrown rising star Jake Drew, 22, from Fullerton, dominated the second race of 2022 at Irwindale Speedway for the touring ARCA MenardsWest Series Saturday in front of a sellout crowd. He set the fastest qualifying time in a 21-car field, started on the pole, and led all 150 laps plus four overtime laps. He drove the No. 6 Irwindale Speedway Ford owned by Bob Bruncati, co-promoter of the speedway 22-miles east of Los Angeles. Bruncati’s other Ford, driven by series rookie Tanner Reif, 16, from Nevada, won Irwindale’s March 26 ARCA 150 in the No. 9 Ford, formerly sponsored by Sunrise Ford.
The July 2 “Independence Day Celebration / Night of Destruction” event was presented by LKQ Pick Your Part. All 6,500 grandstand seats were sold prior to race day. “Event sold out” signs near the track entrance greeted arrivals and people without tickets departed before entering the IS parking lot. The ARCA 150 opened competition shortly after 7:00 pmand Night of Destruction events, a jet engine mounted on the back of a pickup truck burndown of an old car, and a ten-minute aerial fireworks show concluded the busy evening about 10:20 pm.
Drew, a karting veteran and instructor, began his NASCAR stock car career two years ago driving a spec late model for IS co-promoter Tim Huddleston’s Racecar Factory team. He won five of seven IS main events as a rookie to become the 2020 spec late model track champion. Last year Drew raced a RCF team late model as a rookie and won a feature early at IS. He concentrated on racing as a rookie in nine ARCA West events, driving one of Bruncati’s Fords. He tied Jesse Love in points but lost the 2021 ARCA West championship to Love based on the tie-breaker system. Love had two wins and Drew’s best finishes were seconds. He had to settle for ARCA rookie of the year.
This season Drew intends to win the ARCA West championship in his third season racing stock cars. His IS victory Saturday in race six of 11 was his third consecutive ARCA West triumph and first on an oval. He won road course victories at Portland on June 4 and Sonoma on June 11 and again increased his point lead. The 2021 ARCA West rookie of the year clearly has to be considered the favorite to win the 2022 ARCA West championship with another race at Portland and three short track races scheduled.prior to the season finale November 4 on the Phoenix mile.
ARCA 150:The 21-car field had the fastest qualifiers in front as usual. Drew and Paul Pedroncelli, Jr. occupied row one. Cole Moore and Sebastian Arias, from Columbia, were in row two. IS three-time late model champion Trevor Huddleston and Tanner Reif, the fastest qualifier on March 26, occupied row three. The 21 car field had eight Chevys, seven Fords and six Toyotas.
Drivers came from three foreign nations—Australia, Columbia and Japan—and nine states—Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Utah and West Virginia. Newcomers to Irwindale racing were sprinkled throughout the field. Prominent among them were Jake Finch, 17, from Florida, Landen Lewis, 16, from North Carolina, in the No. 16 Bill McAnally’s NAPA Auto Parts Chevy, Christian Rose, 27, from West Virginia, and Amber Slagle, 25, from Michigan.
Drew led the opening lap at 7:04 pm over Pedroncelli and Moor, in the No. 99 McAnally Chevy. Huddleston shot from fourth to second on lap 4 as Drew opened a 35-yard advantage. At lap 50 the order was Drew, Huddleston, Moore, Reif, Pedroncelli, Todd Souza, 18-year old Las Vegan Kyle Keller, the 2018 IS junior late model track champion, Joey Iest, 19 year old Madera champion, Arias, and Lewis, the protege of retired NASCAR truck champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., and Finch. They were the only remaining lead lap drivers.
After 50 green flag laps Finch was lapped but quickly unlapped himself under green. A debris caution flag flew on lap 63. A two-by-two restart followed and Drew picked the outside lane as usual. Another yellow flag followed soon after contact and lapped Finch received the “lucky dog” pass back onto the lead lap. P.5 Pedroncelli spun out to the crashwall on lap 72 after contact with Souza and Souza pitted with a flat tire.
At the lap 75 mid-race full field pit stop in the infield Drew led challenging Huddleston, Moore, Reif, Iest, Keller, Finch, Arias, Slagle, past IS champion Nick Joanides and Lewis. Drew led Huddleston by 30-yards at lap 120 when a three car crash occurred high in turn four. Takuma Koga spun out and the cars of Rose and Joanides quickly piled into Koga’s car. All three drivers escaped injury but their cars were towed to the pits with extensive damage. It was a 19-minute red flag for cleanup operations. Huddleston’s second place No. 50 RCF Chevy had bounced off Koga’s spinning car and he pitted to check damage before returning to the back of the now 15 car field. Lewis received the “lucky dog” pass around the Ford Mustang II pace car.
With ten laps remaining Drew led Moore, Keller, Huddleston, and Reif. Another caution flag on lap 145 followed a two car tangle near the second turn crashwall. Thirteen drivers were on track to the checkered flag. Drew led Moore, Keller, Huddleston and Reif, but in the hectic closing laps Huddleston took third from impressive teen Keller, an ARCA rookie. Finch took fifth on the white flag lap. On the final lap Lewis, Finch and Reif raced three-wide across the finish line inches apart. Outside runner Lewis finished fifth, Finch sixth (0.051 behind Lewis) and inside runner Reif seventh (-0.062 behind Finch). P 8-10 were: Arias, Slagle and Souza.
The first nine finishers completed 154 laps with 15 cars racing at the finish. Drew beat Moore by 0.458 seconds, with third-generation driver Huddleston 0.805 back. Drew ran the fastest race lap of 18.951 (94.982 mph). The race took one hour and 29 minutes including seven yellow flags and one red flag. The race had ten ARCA Series rookies and six drivers racing at Irwindale for the first time. Keller, 18, was the highest finishing ARCA rookie in fourth with rookie Lewis fifth.
TUCKER TIRE ENDURO 35: A 17-car enduro four-cylinder sedan race on the six-turn “R-oval” course started at 4:20 pm, shortly after spectator gates opened. It ran prior to the 5:30 to 6:30autograph session with the 21 ARCA cars lined up two abreast in starting order under the grandstand on a mid-80s day. Bobby Ozman won the enduro 35 overall and took 50-points for the super division victory. Robert Rice placed fifth overall and first in the slower stock division. It was his 72nd IS triumph. Fifteen drivers finished and Ozman ran the fastest lap of 62.823 mph.
TUCKER TIRE FIGURE 8: Seventeen enduro sedans returned and ran a 25-lap Figure 8 all green light race in ten minutes. Joe Labrosciano (No.95 Honda) started fourth and led laps 3-25. He won by 12-seconds over Jason Woolcott. P 3 Robbie Salcido was the only other driver on the lead lap. Eleven of 17 starters finished.
SKID PLATES 15: Fourteen enduro sedan drivers mounted metal skid plates on their back wheels instead of tires and raced 15 laps on the six-turn R-oval course with the infield replacing the third-mile backstretch. Three drivers led early, but fastest qualifier Mike DiGregorio, from Menifee, added another victory to his all-time leading skid plate victory total. He now has 25 IS feature triumphs in the same black & white No. 18 Honda Accord that he has raced since 2013. He won by 33 seconds over laps 2-3 leader Robbie Salcido, from Perris, and by 42 seconds over P. 3 Robert Rice.
The final Night of Destruction event was a trailer destruction race of 20+ unscored laps of mayhem by ten drivers. It ran from 9:45 to 10 pm. Fans applause and cheers voted Bailey Maywald (No. 20 pickup truck) the winner. The No. 5150 Kevin Boisvert entry won the fan vote for best decorated entry before the mayhem commenced. That event followed a jet-flame truck burn-down of an old car in the infield. The finale was a ten-minute aerial fireworks show launched from behind backstretch billboards from 10:10that kept the huge crowd seated until the conclusion.
The next IS oval track event will be another NASCAR Night of local track point racing on Saturday, July 9.