From Tadd Haislop / arcaracing.com
IRWINDALE, Calif. — Jake Drew made a statement Saturday night in the face of anybody who felt inclined to discredit his pair of victories in the previous two ARCA Menards Series West races.
Drew, the 22-year-old Sunrise Ford Racing driver from Fullerton, California, dominated the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame and picked up his third consecutive West Series victory. Unofficially, he led all 154 laps.
He did so on the heels of winning back-t0-back road course races in the West Series, the first at Portland International Raceway on June 4 for his maiden West Series victory, and the second at Sonoma Raceway on June 11. Both wins came in raced that were shortened, the first by weather conditions and the second by time constraints.
Saturday night’s race on the half-mile asphalt oval in Irwindale, California, went the full distance, and nobody in the field had anything for the West Series championship points leader.
“Three in a row — it’s incredible. I feel on top of the world,” said Drew, whose win at Irwindale marked his first ARCA victory on an oval track. “This is a dream come true.”
Drew entered Saturday night’s race with a 35-point edge over Todd Souza for the lead in the West Series standings. Last season, he lost a tiebreaker to champion Jesse Love when the two finished the West Series finale at Phoenix Raceway tied in points.
Saturday night’s result further cements Drew’s status as a favorite to win the 2022 West Series title and redeem himself from last year’s disappointment.
Drew’s win at Irwindale made him the first driver to collect three consecutive West Series checkered flags since Todd Gilliland won four West races in a row in 2017. Gilliland won his second consecutive West Series championship that season.
“I have a great team around me, and I’ve learned so much the last year and a half,” Drew said. “I feel like these last couple of races, pieces have really started to click in my head. I think experience is showing right now.”
Despite his best effort on an overtime restart Saturday night, Bill McAnally Racing driver Cole Moore finished second to Drew. It tied his career-best result; Moore also finished second when the West Series raced at Irwindale in March.
“I wasn’t able to get a good jump on restarts,” Moore said, “Jake was in his sweet spot, and my gearing wasn’t great. We actually got the best restart of the night on that last one, and I sent it in on the inside really hard. Any more and I would have wrecked him and myself, so it was all I could do.”
Trevor Huddleston, a multiple-time track champion at Irwindale and the son of track promotor Tim Huddleston, finished third Saturday night. At various points in the race, he appeared to be the only driver who was able to run with Drew at the front of the field.
“We had tons of speed,” Huddleston said. “Obviously Jake had just a little bit more.”
Kyle Keller and Landen Lewis completed the top five. Jake Finch, Tanner Reif, Sebastian Arias, Amber Slagle and Souza rounded out the top 10.
The ARCA Menards Series West will return to action on Aug. 20 for the 1,000th race in series history, an event that will take place at Washington’s Evergreen Speedway.
A replay of the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame will be shown on USA Network on Friday, July 8, starting at noon ET.
NAPA Auto Parts 150 Results:
Paul Pedroncelli Jr
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Photo: Michael Owens / ARCA Racing