By Vincent Delforge, special to KickinTheTires.net
One position, one point, was all that made the difference between Jake Drew winning and losing the 2021 ARCA Menards Series West championship.
Ultimately, at the end of the Arizona Lottery 100 at Phoenix Raceway, Drew was tied with championship rival Jesse Love. The tiebreaker came down to who had the most wins. Love had two wins to none for Drew.
When the driver of the No. 9 Sunrise Ford crossed the start-finish line, he was the champion. However, about 30 seconds later, Love took the checkered flag after a last lap pass on Trevor Huddleston. It was that pass that put the two championship drivers in a tie.
Throughout the nine-race season, Drew earned four top-fives, seven top-10s, and three pole positions. His first pole came in impressive fashion, besting NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Briscoe in qualifying. Drew’s best finish, second, came at Irwindale Speedway, followed by another runner-up later in the season at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In his rookie season in ARCA West, Drew was running at the finish in every race. Only once, in his series debut, the season opener at Phoenix, did Drew finish off of the lead lap. The Bruncati Racing driver heads into the off season optimistic about his future.
Vincent Delforge: How was the preparation for the race, there was a technical problem with the car?
Jake Drew: “Obviously the entire day was a roller coaster with issues starting even in practice. We rolled off pretty good I felt but lost a lot of track time with a leaking radiator that needed to be changed. We didn’t finish practice-qualifying exactly where we wanted or felt we should have but I felt confident that we would have a good race car that could make up some spots.”
VD: How was your race?
JD: “And I was right, at the drop of the green we were immediately making up positions. Championship was obviously in the back of my mind the whole time, but it was 100% push the whole race. I was searching for every position, every point looking for any gain.
“Those last 10 laps were so intense in the car. I could hear the intensity in my spotter’s voice that we were in position to win but we weren’t going to say it or give up until it was over. I was still chasing the car in front of me just trying to get an extra point not even worrying about the cars behind me.”
VD: So many emotions in seconds after crossing the checkered flag. How do we live that?
JD: “Crossing the line in the moment a champion was such an amazing feeling. I was screaming jumping pumping my fists I couldn’t believe it but as we all know that was sadly very short lived. Of course, that situation is out of my control as with many other things that happened this year.
“Looking on the brighter side, what an amazing team I have. The endless support and advice I’ve received all year as with all of their hard work is what put us in position to fight for that championship.”
VD: A successful season, beyond your expectations?
JD: “I felt so lucky to have woken up that morning knowing I could be crowned a champion. Looking back to our first race in March, the championship was never on my mind. I was just happy to be running a full season with Bruncati Racing Sunrise Ford. Such an amazing team and living my dream of being a racecar driver! Everything after that was a bonus, the poles, the laps lead, fighting for a championship, all of it.”
VD: And for next year, what are your plans?
JD: “Right now my future is fully focused on coming back stronger with all the experience I gained this year to finish the job next year with Bob Bruncati, Jeff Schrader my crew chief and the whole team. More poles, race wins, and the championship. We’re coming for it all.”
Featured Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Luis Torres via Vincent Delforge