ARCA Menards Series West: 2024 Sonoma Race Review

By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires.

The fourth race of the 2024 ARCA Menards West Series season was contested on the road track at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA. The General Tire 200, a 64-lap race extended by an overtime, saw the victory of pole sitter Sam Mayer at the wheel of the No. 23 Sigma Performance Services Chevrolet. Thus offering the first victory for the team led by Joe Farrè.

Sam mayer earned sigma performance services their first arca menards series west win at sonoma raceway.
Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge.

This race was eventful both for the gain of first position and within the pack of 30 drivers at the start. The race also marked the 100th career start of Bobby Hillis, Jr. (Fierce Creature Racing), duly celebrated by championship officials.

Tyler Reif (Central Coast Racing) by finishing second slightly increases his lead in the championship against Sean Hingorani (Jerry Pitts Racing) who completes the podium of the race by finishing third.

Teams can now store road track chassis in the garage or convert them for short tracks. Since we will meet again on July 4 for the first of two consecutive races which will take place on the half-mile at Irwindale Speedway.

ARCA West Practice/Qualifying

Sam Mayer will be the fastest in the single practice session. He is ahead of recent winner of the Portland, OR race William Sawalich (Joe Gibbs Racing) as well as pole sitter from the same race Brandon Jones (Cook Racing Technologies / MMI Racing). Note that newcomer Brent Crews (Venturini Motorsports) is fourth ahead of Noah Gragson (Rette-Jones Racing), winner here in 2019.

Sam mayer earned sigma performance services their first arca menards series west win at sonoma raceway.
Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge.

A session marked by numerous off-track slides and other spins. Tony Huffman (Fierce Creature Racing) did not do a single lap. Note the absence of the only active team having already won the Sonoma race (in 2012). Indeed Naake-Klauer Motorsports, initially on the entry list, is absent. The car driven in Portland by Tanner Reif was too damaged to be competitive enough here.

In qualifying, Sam Mayer sets a new track record of 92.873 mph, beating the 92.794 mph that Kyle Larson achieved in 2014. William Sawalich is second while the second row is occupied by Brandon Jones and Brent Crews. Note that six drivers did not make any timed times during the session for various technical damages suffered during practice. The Jerry Pitts Racing team, for example, had to change the engine and transmission of the No. 7 of Takuma Koga.


During the third pace lapse, Tony Huffman spun. He will rejoin the pitlane around twenty seconds after the green flag is waved. He gives up due to brake problems.

Sam mayer earned sigma performance services their first arca menards series west win at sonoma raceway.
Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge.

In front William Sawalich takes command from pole sitter Sam Mayer. Bobby Hillis, Jr. radioed that he felt a strange vibration in his left rear suspension and was losing positions.

Sam Mayer regains the lead before the end of the first lap of the race. The battle between the top three is intense. Rookie Brent Crews putting pressure on Sawalich. Ryan Philpott (Philpott Racing) stops in his pit box and will not leave again, broken axle. Nick Joanides (Jan’s Racing) spins off the track on Turn 2 at the start of the second lap.

In the third lap Sawalich managed to regain first position. Crews also overtakes Mayer who finds himself third. But the latter will regain first position on the next lap. But just for a lap. Indeed Sawalich is again the leader in the fifth lap, he took advantage of an error from Mayer who went too wide in turn 7a!

Brandon Jones has the rear of his car damaged following contact with Gragson and loses positions.

First Caution

The first yellow flag is raised in the seventh round for a debris in Turn 4a. This is a piece of suspension arm. Obviously it comes from Hillis, Jr.’s car. Just before the restart Todd Souza stops in his pit box. It’s retirement for the driver of the No. 3. He, usually so strong on road tracks, will have experienced two very frustrating races this year on this type of circuit due to various mechanical problems.

Sam mayer earned sigma performance services their first arca menards series west win at sonoma raceway.
Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge.

The top 10 before the restart is as follows: Sawalich first ahead of Mayer, Crews, Gragson, Jack Wood (Bill McAnally Racing), Hingorani, Tyler Reif, Giovanni Ruggiero (Venturini Motorsports), Trevor Huddleston (High Point Racing) and the only female driver in the field Isabella Robusto (Venturini Motorsports). As for Johnny Borneman, III (Lowden-Jackson Motorsports), returning to his pit box for repairs, leaves the pitlane while the green flag is waved. He is now a lap behind the leader and is 28th and last.

At the restart, no change in the top-five. The race seems to be settling in. Hillis, Jr. spun on turn 4a. No doubt its left rear suspension broke, its wheel bouncing like a kangaroo! He will definitely retire in the 12th lap. At the end of the 14th lap, on turn 11 (hairpin), Brian Kamisky (Dereck Copeland Racing) overtook Marco Andretti (Cook Racing Technologies / MMI Racing) and Ruggiero in three-wide and entered the top 10.

Caleb Shrader (Jerry Pitts Racing) also got the better of Ruggiero but not for long because on the 15th lap he headed to the entrance of turn 4 towards the “Carousel”) where he stopped definitively while he was in 12th position. New disappointment for the young driver after Portland. No yellow flag because he is off the track.

The top 10 on lap 15 is as follows with Sawalich ahead of Mayer, Crews, Gragson, Hingorani, Wood, Tyler Reif, Robusto, Dale Quarterley (Quarterley Racing) and Kamisky.

Dave Smith (Performance P-1 Motorsports) retired on lap 21 following a broken transmission. Ruggiero is also in his pit box, engine hood open. His team can do nothing and he too must retired.

Joanides into the tire barrier!

At the end of the 24th lap, Noah Gragson pushed Nick Joanides on turn 10 and the driver of the No. 71 hit the tire barrier. The entire left side of his car is damaged but he manages to restart under his own power. This is the second yellow flag of the day. At this time the top 10 is as follows: Sawalich, Mayer, Crews, Gragson, Hingorani, Wood, Tyler Reif, Quarterley, Jones and Robusto. But many leaders will take advantage of this to pass through the pitlane. Kamisky stays on the track and takes command of the race. This is the first time he has led a race in the West Series.

Sam mayer earned sigma performance services their first arca menards series west win at sonoma raceway.
Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge.

The restart won’t last long. Kamiky manages to retain leadership. Entering Turn 2 Sawalich, second, slipped and even received a little help from Mayer to find himself off-track. Gragson, Mayer and the others pass. Sawalich returns to the track side by side with Takuma Koga and manages to stay in 11th position.

But on the descent towards Turn 4a Brent Crews finds himself on three wheels. He has just lost his left rear wheel. He manages to return to the pitlane slowly. His wheel, for its part, continued on its way over “The Chute” until Turn 7a where it bounced off the wall of tires before returning to the track. Eric Nascimento, Jr. (Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports) benefits from the free pass.

This third yellow flag will also serve as a midway break. Teams can just make adjustments and add fuel. Kamisky stops at his pit box, handing over leadership to Noah Gragson. Rodd Kneeland (Rodd Racing) receives the free pass.

The restart is wild on the start/finish line with several drivers rubbing their car bodies. Sawalich takes damage when he hits the rear bumper of Robusto.

Gragson leads ahead of Mayer, Tyler Reif, Hingorani, Wood, Andretti, Quarterley, Johnson, Jr. Robusto and Sawalich. Note the retirements of Johnny Borneman, III (suspension), Brent Crews (power steering) and Eric Nascimento, Jr. (mechanical).

But on the 33rd lap, Gragson missed his braking at Turn 7a and let Sam Mayer take control of the race. Tyler Reif does the forcing and also overtakes Gragson in the esses. Hingorani, Wood,… will also quickly gain the upper hand on the driver of the No. 30. On the 34th lap Andretti suffered a puncture of his right front tire on the climb towards Turn 2 and had to make a complete lap at the slows down to return to the pitlane.

At the start of the 35th lap the top 10 is as follows with Mayer ahead of Tyler Reif, Hingorani, Wood, Sawalich, Gragson, Robusto, Quarterley, Huddleston and Johnson, Jr.

The fourth yellow flag was raised on lap 39 following the accident of Trevor Huddleston who hit the tire barrier on Turn 8 after a stroller from Quarterley. The Ford No. 50 does not seem to have suffered too much despite the violence of the impact except for the right rear which was bent.

On lap 41 Sawalich, Gragson, Kyle Keller (Kennealy-Keller Racing) and Andretti stopped by to make adjustments to their pit box.

Mayer controls the race, Kamisky slows…

At the restart on lap 43 Sam Mayer easily retained the leadership by taking advantage of the intense duel between Reif and Hingorani. Wood and Robusto follow closely. Behind Quarterley is side-by-side with Kamisky for sixth position. Eric Johnson, Jr., Tim Spurgeon (David Racing) and Travis McCullough (Nascimento-Joiner Motorsports) complete the top 10.

Sam mayer earned sigma performance services their first arca menards series west win at sonoma raceway.
Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge.

While he has just overtaken Quarterley for sixth position and is threatening Wood to enter the top-five, Brian Kamisky, who is having the best race of his career in the West Series, is the victim of a mechanical failure and he finds himself slowing down in the esses and stops at Turn 9. Unfortunately he will have to give up. Brandon Jones, 16th, receives the free pass.

At the restart on lap 47 the top 10 is as follows with Mayer leading ahead of Reif, Hingorani, Wood, Robusto, Quarterley, Johnson, Jr., McCullough, Spurgeon and Koga.

We narrowly avoided another yellow when Sawalich almost hit Andretti on Turn 2. We will then witness the longest run under green flag of the race with 16 laps! If Mayer initially increases his lead, the trend reverses from the 58th lap. Tyler Reif gradually returning to the rear bumper of the leader.


Two laps from the end, sixth yellow flag following the stop of Huddleston, then in 11th position, between Turns 1 and 2. Koga, 15th, receives the free pass.

It’s an overtime (one lap dash) that awaits the drivers. The top 10 for the restart is as follows with Mayer ahead of Reif, Hingorani, Wood, Sawalich, Quarterley, Robusto, Johnson, Jr., Jones and Keller who had a superb end of the race.

Sam mayer earned sigma performance services their first arca menards series west win at sonoma raceway.
Photo by Diego Alvarado via Vincent Delforge.

Mayer retains command thanks to a good restart in front of Reif. Behind Wood and Hingorani are in the middle of a fight for third position. Hingorani, the 2023 champion, comes out of turn 3a better and remains on the podium. Sawalich took the opportunity to also attack Wood and take fourth position on turn 7a. Behind in the pack, Turn 3 was the end for Gragson’s race who spun after contact from Andretti. He managed to continue but in slow motion.

Sam Mayer mastered the situation and won a magnificent victory, his second in his career and first on a road track. But it’s no surprise that the 2019-2020 ARCA Menards East Series champion is comfortable on the road track. Indeed, of his five victories obtained in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, three have been on road tracks.  

“I was mostly worried about the fuel,” said Mayer, who said he spent much of the closing stages of Friday’s race in gas-saving mode. “I didn’t know if it would last, or if it was going to stutter at all. But I’ve been practicing that a lot lately. We’ve been in that scenario a lot on the Xfinity side, so being able to use that over here and get a win is super cool.”

The top 10 is completed by Tyler Reif, Sean Hingorani, William Sawalich, Jack Wood, Isabella Robusto, Eric Johnson, Jr. Brandon Jones, Kyle Keller and Travis McCullough.

In the championship Tyler Reif increases his lead by one point and now stands at 159 points, eleven more than Sean Hingorani (148). Jack Wood (140), William Sawalich (138) and Kyle Keller (133) complete the top-five.

Next race on July 4 for the NAPA AutoParts 150 at the Irwindale Speedway, a half-mile located in Irwindale, California.

Writer’s Note: A recap five days after a race? It is from my hospital bed that I write this to you. Firstly because I committed to writing it with Kickin’ the Tires. Then to always shed light on the fantastic West Series and finally because I love it and it helps me keep fit and alert. Thank you all for your kind words of support. Good reading.

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