From Todd Haislop | arcaracing.com
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Considering the defending ARCA Menards Series West winner at California’s Kern County Raceway Park set the best lap in practice, qualified on the General Tire Pole and led the most laps in Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts BlueDEF 150, one would assume Landen Lewis ended the third race of the 2023 season in Victory Lane.
That might have been the case had Sean Hingorani not been on track Saturday evening on the half-mile oval.
Hingorani, the 16-year-old Venturini Motorsports driver who earlier this month became the first driver of Indian decent to win an ARCA Menards Series race when he took the checkered at California’s Irwindale Speedway, went back-to-back in the West Series with a victory at Kern County.
And he did so overcoming a penalty at the start of the 150-lap race; he jumped the start and illegally crossed the line before the pole-sitter.
“I knew it was going to be tough getting back through the field,” Hingorani said. “But we did it. [My team] gave me a rocket ship today. Everyone who’s here — I can’t thank them enough. This thing was so fast.”
Hingorani’s victory marked the second in one day for his team on the ARCA platform. Fellow Venturini Motorsports driver Jesse Love won the General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway for the ARCA Menards Series (national) earlier Saturday.
Lewis was the driver to beat for most of the event Saturday. That changed when Hingorani, finally in position to compete for the lead in the second half of the race, found himself working his way through the front of the field in the closing stages.
Hingorani passed Lewis for good with 40 laps to go. A couple cautions for incidents involving David Smith did nothing to impact the finish; Hingorani drove away from the field on both restarts to end the race, including one with just three laps to go.
“We came up a little short,” Lewis said. “Not many words to say. We led that many laps and can’t seal the deal. My third second-place finish in a row. But we’re going to stay positive on the team.”
Lewis finished second ahead of Trevor Huddleston in third, Tanner Reif in fourth and Bradley Erickseon in fifth.
Tyler Reif, Jake Bollman, Ethan Nascimento, Todd Souza and Nick Joanides rounded out the top 10.
After a pair of races in April, West Series drivers will enjoy a lengthy break before returning to action on the twists and turns of Portland International Raceway on June 2. That race is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT and be shown live on FloRacing.
A replay of the NAPA Auto Parts BlueDEF 150 at Kern County Raceway Park will air on CNBC on Saturday, April 30 starting at 11 a.m. ET.
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