From Brandon White | arcaracing.com
Phoenix Rising: Jake Finch earns first ARCA East victory at Dover
DOVER, Del. — The legacy of James Finch and Phoenix Racing remains alive and well in stock car racing.
Carrying the iconic Phoenix Racing logo on the hood of his No. 20 Venturini Motorsports Toyota at Dover Motor Speedway during Saturday’s General Tire 125, James’ son Jake Finch had to fend off a challenge from Landen Lewis during a green-white-checkered finish to earn his first ARCA Menards Series East victory.
Jake had no idea what to expect from Lewis or himself during the sprint to the finish, but credited his crew chief Shannon Rursch and spotter Tyler Monn for keeping him composed through a chaotic last restart.
“Tyler Monn and Shannon Rursch really calmed me down [on that last restart],” Jake said. “I was a little nervous and thought I was going to sell it. You’re thinking of all the worst possible scenarios that can happen, but [Tyler and Shannon] told me to keep doing what I was doing.”
Success has long followed the Finch family in stock car racing, with Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Randy LaJoie and Jeff Purvis among those who visited Victory Lane in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions under the Phoenix Racing banner.
The younger Finch’s own dreams of racing in NASCAR have kept Phoenix Racing around on a smaller scale. Since the turn of the decade, James has maintained an active presence in short track racing by helping his son develop his race craft in Super Late Model competition and now ARCA Menards Series East.
Jake’s gradual improvement ultimately caught the attention of Venturini Motorsports. After making two starts with the organization in 2022, Venturini brought Jake back for an expanded part-time schedule that would see him contest races in all three ARCA divisions.
Looking to build upon a solid third-place finish in the ARCA Menards Series East opener at Five Flags Speedway last month, Jake utilized patience at the beginning of the General Tire 125 before quickly working his way around Lewis and teammate Conner Jones during the first restart of the day.
Jake faced consistent pressure from Lewis during the closing stages, but felt confident he could fend off the ARCA Menards Series West points leader, even after a cut tire from Jones forced a green-white-checkered restart.
A strong jump from Lewis on the outside caught Jake by surprise, but he remembered the advice passed down from his crew to stay calm. He successfully kept his car on the bottom of the track before moving Lewis out of the groove just enough on the last lap to pull away to the victory.
“I didn’t think [Landen] would be on my door at that point because we were so good,” Finch said. “I did what I thought I should do and we ended up winning, which is an awesome feeling.”
Jake’s triumph at Dover continued a recent string of success for Venturini Motorsports Sean Hingorani has claimed the last two ARCA Menards Series West races, while Jesse Love gave Venturini their first win of the 2023 ARCA Menards Series season at Talladega Superspeedway last Saturday.
Luke Fenhaus brought home a solid third-place finish behind Finch and Lewis. William Sawalich and Lavar Scott completed the top-five.
A replay of the General Tire 125 at Dover Motor Speedway can be seen on CNBC at 11 a.m. ET on May 7.
The ARCA Menards Series East will be back in action on May 13 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, with the green flag set to wave at 9:30 p.m. ET. The race will be streamed live on FloRacing.
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Photo's: arcaracing.com | Alex Daus | Venturini Motorsports