ARCA Menards West Series: Portland Race Preview

By Vincent Delforge, special to

This Saturday, June 4, 2022, Portland International Raceway will host the fourth ARCA Menards West Series race of the season in Portland, OR. The first of the three road races of the year. The 12-turn, 1.967-mile road course is hosting the seventh race of his history and  the 997th race of the West Series since its inception in 1954. The Portland 112 is a 57-lap (112.12-mile) race starting at 4:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. ET . It will be preceded by a combined practice/qualifying session of one hour and 15 minutes. 

Before last year and its return to the West Series schedule, in collective memory, this track was better known for his IndyCar, IMSA or GT races than for NASCAR. Yet there was a period between 1995 and 2000 when NASCAR came there every year. In the NASCAR Northwest Series (seven times) and in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series twice in 1999 and 2000. 

2022 will be the first year that the road circuit will be visited twice by the West Series. If the September race will once again accompany the NTT Indycar Series championship as in 2021, this weekend’s race will not be the only one with stock cars on the track.

Indeed, NASCAR has decided to return with one of its national series in Oregon. And it is to the Xfinity Series that this honor belongs. A first here for NASCAR’s second division. The Pacific Automation 147 will take place on June 4 just before the race from ARCA West with a scheduled start at 1:30 p.m. PT / 4:30 p.m. ET. 

The race procedure: There will be an ARCA competition caution at or near Lap 28. Pitting during any caution period in this event will be for adding fuel, making repairs and adjustments only, no tires can be changed unless approved by ARCA Officials. Positions will not be gained or lost among those pitting on the same lap unless penalty or going a lap down on pit road.

All cars will be required to make at least one pit stop prior to last 10 laps of race. The maximum tire allotment available for the event is eight (8). Per ARCA Rulebook, maximum number of tires allowed in pit box for use in race is four (4) for emergency use only with approval by an ARCA Official. 

ARCA West at Portland 

The West Series was the first NASCAR series on this road track in 1986 with the victory of Hershel McGriff. 

We had to wait until 2009 for the West Series to return to it. The series established its quarters there four years in a row until 2012. Jim Inglebright (2009), Patrick Long (2010), Luis Martinez, Jr. (2011) and Greg Pursley (2012) having joined McGriff in the winner’s circle.  

Last year, for its return, the West Series offered us a crazy race with an incredible finish and the victory of Taylor Gray for David Gilliland Racing after long minutes of waiting. Several drivers having cut the first chicane during the last restart, they had been penalised including the first to cross the finish line, Jake Drew. 

Moreover, to avoid any problems this year, it was decided by Chris Wright, the West Series director, and the officials that during the start and the restarts, the drivers will not take the first chicane and will continue straight until at the fourth turn. Please note that this rule is ONLY valid for the start and restarts. The drivers having to take the chicane during all the other laps during the race and of course the practice/qualifying session. 

Among manufacturers, Ford leads the way with three victories ahead of Chevrolet, Pontiac and Dodge, one victory each.   

The Portland International Raceway is a 12-turn, 1,967-mile road course. This will be the second time the West has used this configuration after the 2021 race. Previously it was the 1,950-miles or 1,980-miles. A road track made up of two long straightaways and a very technical winding section. It will have to be covered 57 times to complete the distance of 112-miles.  

As is also the case in Sonoma, Calif., Bill McAnally Racing has never known the joys of winning on this road track. Eric Holmes twice finishing second in 2010 and 2011. Conversely, the great rival Bob Bruncati met with success there in 2011 with Luis Martinez, Jr.  

In memory of Robert Osaki – 1961-2022 

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The logo that will memorialize Robert Osaki. Photo Courtesy of the Osaki Family via Vincent Delforge.

This May 25, It is with sadness that we learned of the death of Robert Osaki nicknamed ‘Chop’ after a long battle against cancer. A highly valued member of the great West Series family. 

His hard work, for example, allowed Gene Price Motorsports to win so many trophies and titles a few years ago with Greg Pursley and Dylan Kwasniewski. He then continued his work as a tire specialist with Jefferson Pitts Racing until 2019. Noah Gragson, who was a driver for JPR, did not fail to pay tribute to him by inscribing his nickname Chop on his car during the last race of the Xfinity Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

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Noah Gragson honors Robert ‘Chop’ Osaki at Charlotte. Photo Courtesy of Noah Gragson via Vincent Delforge.

RIP Robert 

The Drivers

The preliminary entry list is made up of 19 cars. It is time to detail it driver by driver.  

Portland, arca, west
David Smith’s No. 05 Toyota Camry. Photo Courtesy of David Smith via Vincent Delforge.

No. 05 David Smith (Shockwave Motorsports) 

The Canadian from British Columbia will make his debut in the West Series. Owner of Shockwave Marine Suspension Seating, he is a regular in road racing in the TransAm series in TA2 class as well as on ovals in Canada in SLM with his own Shockwave Motorsports team. He also regularly sponsors Derek Kraus in NCWTS at McAnally Hilgemann Racing and in SLM races. The Toyota No. 05 is prepared at its raceshop in Sidney, BC. His crew chief will be the experienced Dave Fuge. He is expected to do all three road races this season. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
0      0      0     0      n/a  n/a 

No. 4 Eric Nascimento (Nascimento Racing)  

Last year with this car, Eric Nascimento demonstrated he had the speed to aim for a podium. Unfortunately he was among the drivers receiving a 30 second penalty for having cut the first chicane during the last restart. Having to settle for an 11th position after crossing the finish line in second place. With the new rule concerning the first chicane, there is no risk of a penalty this year. The top-five or better is a realistic goal given the speed displayed by Nascimento on the road tracks. He is expected to do all three road races this season. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
6     0      1      2     0      5th (1x)      1 start, best result : 11th 

No. 6 Jake Drew (Bruncati Racing)  

The championship leader has only one objective, to erase the disappointment of 2021. Last year he had taken pole, had been able to come back despite a damaged car during contact with Koga to cross the finish line first. While celebrating his first victory, he was told on the radio that the officials were reviewing the images of the last restart. The ax fell a few minutes later. He was penalized 30 seconds. Finally ranked 10th.. This cost him the championship.

This year Drew is a ‘top-five metronome.’ He just needs one win. Passionate about the history of the West Series, he would like to become the 200th winner in history. For that, he must win the race. And he entrusted it to me, he feels it well. Why? Because in addition to working on its car itself during the week,

Bruncati Racing did some tests on the road tracks of Buttonwillow and Sonoma Raceway a fortnight ago and they were able to improve their setups. Given the mastery displayed last year. He is the BIG favorite for the win. Note that among his 28 victories as crew chief, Bill Sedgwick won the race in 2011 with Luis Martinez, Jr. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
12     0      7      10      3      2nd (3x)      1 start, best result: 10th  

No. 7 Takuma Koga (Jerry Pitts Racing)   

Koga was surprising last year. Obtaining 9th position in qualifying, he had despite a collision on a restart with Drew managed to bring his Toyota No. 7 into the top-five. His second in career. For his 94th start in the West Series, he wants to do as well. Jerry Pitts, his crew chief, is no stranger to Koga’s good results in Portland. He knows how to win here as he did it in 2012 with Greg Pursley. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At portland 
93      0      2      17      0      5th (2x)      1 start, best result : 5th  

No. 9 Tanner Reif (Bruncati Racing)  

The rookie and current second in the championship Tanner Reif does not have experience in Portland. But with him, is experience necessary? Since the beginning of the season, he has dazzled us with his talent. Winner in his second career start, he will be one of the toughest opponents for victory against his teammate Drew.

Because he too has just tested at Buttonwillow and Sonoma Raceway. He was able to benefit from the advice of Boris Said, the road ringer par excellence. And saw the smile displayed on his face in the photos of his sessions. It’s a safe bet that he feels capable of winning the trophy! 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
3      1      2      2      1      1st (1x)      n/a 

No. 12 Kyle Keller (Kyle Keller Racing) – WITHDRAW 

Unfortunately, due to a lack of sponsors, Keller and his family team have made the decision not to participate in the two upcoming road races in Portland and Sonoma. Difficult but essential decision not to put the finances of the team in the red zone. The SLM program is the priority this year for Keller. The team therefore sold the West car used during the Bakersfield race. The team will return to Irwindale on July 2 with his other car. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
5      0      2      3      0      4th      n/a 

No. 13 Todd Souza (Central Coast Racing)  

The 2021 race is arguably one of the worst memories of Todd Souza and CCR’s entire career. Water got into the fuel tank. The car refusing to start… Yet on the road Souza is one of the best drivers. His only victory, won at Tooele in 2008, was on a road circuit. In Portland, in four races, he obtained only one top-10 with an eighth position in 2009. For his 101st career race, he intends to ward off bad luck and find his way to Victory Lane. Note that he did a test session in Sonoma as part of a NASA NorCal meeting ten days ago. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
100     1      14      53      0      1st (1x)      4 starts, best result: 8th  

No. 16 Austin Herzog (Bill McAnally Racing)  

The BMR rookie has no road experience in the West Series. And his experience on this type of circuit is of the order of nothing before this year. He had already tested in April with a Southwest car on the Thurderhill road track with Johnny Nolind to get familiar with right turns. Like Souza and P.J. Pedroncelli, he attended the NASA NorCal meeting in Sonoma 10 days ago.

Bill McAnally explained that “he had improved throughout the day with very good lap times at the end.” This will be very useful for Portland. The number one objective for him will be to maintain its place in the top five of the championship. Note that its crew chief, Charlie Wilson, has already obtained a top-10 here in 2011 with the sixth position of Brett Thompson. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
4      0      1      3      0      3rd      n/a  

No. 17 Connor Mosack(McGowan Motorsports with Cook Racing Technologies)  

Charlotte, NC driver Connor Mosack will make his second career West Series start after the season-opening Phoenix race where he finished 10th. But this time he will be driving Steve McGowan’s No. 17. Sean Samuels will be his crew chief. If McGowan Motorsports was absent last year in Portland, the team has already driven there between 2009 and 2012 with David Mayhew behind the wheel.

Two top-10 including a fourth position as the best result in 2010 as well as a pole position in 2009. Mosack, who is a regular in road racing in the TransAm Series, will also make his Xfinity Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing this weekend in Portland.

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
0   0   1   0   10th (1x)   n/a 

No. 31 Paul Pedroncelli (P.J. Pedroncelli Racing)  

Paul Pedroncelli is doing start and park this year to help his son P.J. 

This is true on the ovals but normally it is expected for him to do the entire races on the road circuits. 

Because on this type of track Paul is rather gifted. As proof, his 13th position last year in Sonoma and especially his fine ninth place, his only top-10 to date, here in Portland. His crew chief and friend Rodd Kneeland is a renowned road ringer. Together they could do it again and get a new top-10. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
11      0      0      1      0      8th      1 start, best result: 9th  

No. 32 Dale Quarterley (Quarterley Racing)  

At 61, veteran Dale Quarterley is not ready to hang up the gloves. He raced the ARCA Menards Series again at Daytona last February. He has a long history in the ARCA East Series with 162 starts for six wins including two on the Lime Rock road track at Lakeville, CT. In recent years, he has mainly focused on road circuits.

But he also made nine races in the West Series between 2004 and 2019 with one top-five and six top-10s. Among these top-10s, there is an eighth position acquired here in Portland in 2012. As has been the case for several years, it is his son Alex who will be his crew chief. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
9     0      1      6     0      2nd (1x)     1 start, best result: 8th  

No. 33 P.J. Pedroncelli (P.J. Pedroncelli Racing)  

For his first race in Portland last year, P.J. had obtained an excellent second position. At that time in his career, it was his best result in the West Series. He has since won a race at Roseville. As said before, he also tested his car about ten days ago during a NASA NorCal meeting. When you know P.J.’s driving qualities on the road circuit, you can’t help but put him on the list of BIG favorites for victory. He is still the only driver to have obtained a podium in both road races in 2021. That says it all! 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
25      1      6      8      2      1st (1x)      1 start, best result: 2nd  

No. 39 Andrew Tuttle (Last Chance Racing)  

Tuttle will be a rookie in Portland. And he will have a lot of work since his team will enter a second car for Vince Little. As a reminder, he made his very first career race in the West Series at the road course in Brainerd, MN in 2013. He finished 15th. And it is to date his only career race on a road track! Tuttle will use the chassis previously seen in Phoenix, this car being used for tracks longer than one mile, oval or road track. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
9    0     0     0     0     15th (3x)     n/a 

No. 43 Daniel Dye (GMS Racing) 

Daniel Dye has only made two races in the West Series so far, each time at the Phoenix, AZ oval. With his GMS Racing team, he comes here to perfect his driving on a road circuit. As many, he is going to discover Portland. It will not be Chad Bryant his crew chief as in the ARCA national series. Here it will be Travis Sharpe. 

He has 45 races as crew chief with two wins, 11 top-5s and 21 top-10s. His best result at Portland was acquired last year with Jesse Love with the 3rd position

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
2    0     1     1    0     2nd (1x)     n/a 

No. 54 Joey Iest (Naake-Klauer Motorsports)  

Excellent fourth last year in Portland, Iest also wants to ward off bad luck. Because last year in Sonoma, on the other road race, his engine had broken while he was driving for the top-five. And it’s exactly the same misadventure that happened to him during the last race to date in Bakersfield. This means that in the championship, he who is one of the contenders for the championship title, is only eighth, 30 points behind Drew! Suffice to say that Joey no longer has a joker.

The mechanics have to hold up. If so, don’t worry, he will aim for an excellent result. Mike Naake, his owner/crew chief already has experience here in addition to the top-five of Iest with two other top-10s just like Tom Klauer, the co-owner of the team, who in three races as a driver, obtained two top-10s here. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
16      1      6      7      0      1st (1x)      1 start, best result : 4th  

No. 77 Clark Lukens (Performance P-1 Motorsports) – WITHDRAWN 

Modified dirt track rider Clark Lukens of Portland, Oregon should have made his West Series debut in the first of two races scheduled for the road course this season at Portland. Unfortunately, for family reasons, his grandfather being terminally ill, he prefers, and we understand, to stay with him. All of our prayers and thoughts are with Clark and his family. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
 0  0   0   0   0   n/a  n/a 

No. 85 Vince Little (Last Chance Racing)  

A native of Madera, CA, Vince Little has never raced in the West Series. However, he is well known for his qualities as a driver on the road circuit. Why ? Because he is, a racing instructors at Sonoma Raceway. A track he knows like the back of his hand, having also driven there in the early 2000s in the NASCAR Southwest Series. Darrell Herzog, from Fresno, CA, will be his crew chief. Not related to BMR driver Austin Herzog. Little and LCR bought the car used by Kyle Keller in Bakersfield. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
 0  0   0   0   0   n/a  n/a 

No. 88 Bridget Burgess (BMI Racing) 

If in Sonoma the young Australian had done wonders despite the difficulties during the race by obtaining a good eighth position. The race in Portland had not smiled on her. Only 16th after an accident with Bobby Hillis, Jr. Yet she deserved another top-10. Bridget is fast on the road course. If she had a better car in her hands, she would aim for the top-five at the very least. But with the small means of the family team it is difficult to fight against BMR or Bruncati Racing. Yet our Australian friends are skilled competitors. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
22      0      0      5      0      7th       1 start, best result: 16th  

No. 99 Cole Moore (Bill McAnally Racing)  

Only 12th last year in Portland due to a broken left front spindle after a contact during the last restart as he was fighting for a podium. He had even led earlier in the race. Combined with his fourth position acquired in Sonoma, one thing is certain, Moore is an excellent driver on the road track. Very solid this season, he manages to hold his own in each race despite a car a little behind in pure performance against the duo from Bruncati Racing. Third in the championship just six points behind Drew and one behind Reif. Like Drew, he’s only missing one thing, getting his first win. 

Starts      Wins      Top5      Top10      Pole      Best result      At Portland 
20      0      6      12      0      2nd    1 start, best result: 12th 

Final notes  

– Note the absences of Trevor Huddleston, whose 2022 program is limited to oval races, Chris Lowden and Colombian Sebastian Arias for the same reasons.  

– Bobby Hillis, Jr. is also absent for budgetary reasons. The sale of one of his cars was to cover part of the costs. Unfortunately this sale was not made. 

-Who will be the 200th winner in the history of the West Series? The 199th being Landen Lewis at Bakersfield in the previous race of the 2022 season.  

-Which of Herzog or Moore will be the 24th different winner for Bill McAnally Racing and will win the team’s 99th victory (100th if you include the 2003 All-Star Showdown), the first at Portland?   

To all these questions and many more, we will have the answers this Saturday. The race results, when available, can be found here

Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NASCAR Media Courtesy of Vincent Delforge.

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