By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires
Race eight of the ARCA Menards West Series season saw Sean Hingorani win the NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Evergreen Speedway located in Monroe, WA. Not only is this his fourth win of the season but he takes the championship lead for the first time this year against Landen Lewis for a point lead. Four races from the end of the season, the duel between the two young drivers promises to be more intense than ever.
This race on the historic .646 mile oval will have offered a nice spectacle. Tyler Reif getting his first career pole will lead the first 55 laps before being overtaken by Hingorani but without ever giving up. He finished second ahead of Kole Raz who confirmed his qualities with a new third position after that obtained at Shasta for his debut. Lewis, however very fast in practice, finished fourth and limited the damage.
The big disappointment of this race is without context Tanner Reif. Winner last year, he hoped to return to victory and thus make people forget a very complicated 2023 season for the BMR driver. But unfortunately he will be the victim of an accident shortly after the halfway point.
Here is the race review of the race.
Note that Performance P1 Motorsports finally gave up the trip to Evergreen with its Ford No. 77 of Nick Joanides. The deal with a sponsor did not succeed but mainly because of additional costs in its Pro Late Model program following the breakage of two engines.
Landen Lewis immediately showed his ambitions by being the fastest in practice. He had even had the best time very quickly. His opponents will eventually approach it at the end of the session. And it is Tyler Reif who will be the closest to a tenth of the driver of the No. 17 of Bruce Cook Technologies with McGowan. Kole Raz, on his hometrack, is in third position.
Jacob Smith, last minute replacement for Jake Drew at Lowden-Jackson Motorsports, showed that he had lost none of his qualities by finishing fourth just ahead of Bradley Erickson (Naake-Klauer Motorsports). Hingorani is only ninth. Ethan Nascimento, finally driving the No. 21 Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports is 13th.
During the qualifying session, Tyler Reif took pole position, his first in his career. It also gives Central Coast Racing its very first pole in its history, which began in 2006 in the West Series. He is ahead of Hingorani by 101 thousandths. Trevor Huddleston (High Point Racing) is third ahead of Kole Raz. Lewis is only sixth. Eric Johnson, Jr. for his first oval race with Bill McAnally Racing is 14th just ahead of Canadian David Smith who brings up the rear.
Once pace car driver Chuck Carruthers steps out of the way towards the infield to free the pack, Tyler Reif takes full advantage of his pole position to dive on the inside of the first corner, Hingorani right behind him. But behind the leading duo the fight rages between Huddleston and Raz and Erickson with Lewis. Each duo being side-by-side during the first two laps.
Very quickly we will realize that Takuma Koga (Jerry Pitts Racing) but especially David Smith (Shockwave Racing) do not have the rhythm to follow the pack. At the end of the pack we find Eric Johnson, Jr. who will do a race full of wisdom in order to learn as much as possible about oval driving.
Eric Nascimento, Jr. wins the Reese’s Sweet Move of the Race Award on lap 42. And it’s deserved. Indeed he will take advantage of the lapped car of David Smith to overtake Erickson while resisting Jacob Smith in Turns 3 and 4. The three pilots being in three-wide for the eight position!
In front Tyler Reif leads the race with Hingorani clinging to his rear bumper. The latter will make an attack on the 55th lap when he comes out of Turn 2 better. Side-by-side in the backstretch, he is on the inside line at the entrance of Turn 3 and manages to take command of the race. This will be the only change of leader during the 150 laps.
Midway Break and Disaster for Tanner Reif.
On the 77th lap the officials waved the yellow flag for the first time, it was the midway break. The drivers will go through the pitlane to make adjustments. Erickson receives the free pass when he is in 11th position.
The order for the restart is Hingorani leading ahead of Tyler Reif, Raz, Lewis, Tanner Reif, Eric Nascimento, Kyle Keller, Huddleston, Smith, Todd Souza, Erickson, Ethan Nascimento (-1), Johnson, Jr. (- 1), Koga (-1), Smith (-2).
The restart is given on the 81st lap and Hingorani makes a great take-off. Behind Raz scrambles a bit while shifting gears and Tanner Reif will hit him and at the exit of Turn 4, he will rub the outside wall. Enough to cause a slow puncture of his right front tire. And while he is fifth will see his tire let go in the frontstretch and he will shoot straight into Turn 1 to hit the wall hard. The car is destroyed.
Fortunately, Tanner escaped without injury. But it’s a big disappointment for the one who won the race here last year. He will finish last in the race. This second yellow flag allows Ethan Nascimento to benefit from the free pass.
The next restart on the 88th lap is a formality for Hingorani who manages two lengths ahead of Tyler Reif. Raz and Lewis follow right behind.
The race will remain fluid until the end. This long run under green flag will widen the gaps between the pilots. Note that Ethan Nascimento will have to store his car in the garage thirty laps from the finish. She became undriveable. It is shortly after that Souza will lose a lap on the leader. But he will keep this tenth position until the finish.
Sean Hingorani crossed the finish line as the winner, 2.5 seconds ahead of Tyler Reif. Raz is third at five seconds. Lewis narrowly manages to keep his fourth position against Eric Nascimento but more than 11 seconds behind the winner.
The rest of the top-10 is made up of Huddleston, Keller, Smith, Erickson and Souza.
Finally, note that just after the start-finish line Erickson had an accident, destroying the rear of his Ford No. 88. But the reason for this accident is not known.
In the championship Hingorani takes the lead with 372 points against Lewis (371). Huddleston is 3rd (348). Tyler Reif (344) passes Erickson (342) for fourth.
It will take some patience before seeing the ARCA Menards West Series drivers in action again. The next race on September 30 at All Amercian Speedway, Roseville, CA. For the NAPA Auto Care 150.
See you on Wednesday for the full driver-by-driver analysis.