For the first time in four years, Trevor Huddleston has found victory lane in the ARCA Menards Series West, winning at Irwindale Speedway after numerous front runners encountered issues throughout the race.
The last time Huddleston found victory lane was at Evergreen Speedway in 2019 before the series was under the ARCA banner. It’s the High Point Racing driver’s third career win in West Series competition.
“I’m too excited man,” Huddleston said to track reporters. “I’ve never been this out of breath, just from excitement.”
Behind Huddleston, Eric Nascimento Jr. turned in a career night, finishing second. It was also the best finish of the season for the 22-year-old, who had only finished one previous race, and never did so better than the 14th position.
Tanner Reif came home in third place, giving him and the Bill McAnally Racing team their best finish of the season, besting a previous finish of fourth at Kern County Raceway earlier this season.
“On the restart, we just sent it down to the bottom, but the car was too tight,” Reif told track reporters. “This was a good race for us this year, we’ve been struggling, and this was a really good result for us.”
Veteran Todd Souza also recorded his best finish of the season, crossing the line in fourth position. It’s the 58-year-old’s best since last year at Portland International Raceway, when he finished runner-up.
Rounding out the top five was Robbie Kennealy, who made his series debut, bringing his No. 1 home in fifth.
To complete the top 10, Phoenix Raceway winner Tyler Reif finished sixth, Jake Bollman finished seventh and Nick Joandies came across the line eighth. Landen Lewis, who led laps early in the going before a restart penalty ended his chances to win, finished in ninth, and Takuma Koga crossed the line in the 10th position.
On the initial start, Sean Hingorani jumped out to the early lead, but it wasn’t long before he had a challenger. Lewis found himself side by side with Hingorani on lap two and passed the Venturini Motorsports driver for the lead as the field crossed the line for lap 3.
Hingorani kept himself close, however, never falling back more than a quarter of a second behind Lewis’ rear bumper through the first 30 laps of the race. Hingorani eventually got himself door to door with Lewis, as the pair battled side by side for the lead for a number of laps, with Lewis eventually prevailing with the lead.
While the front duo battled out, Bradley Erickson’s No. 88 machine lost its motor while running third, ending his night prematurely. It ends Erickson’s streak of finishing inside of the top 10 in each of the first five races on the West schedule so far in 2023. He went on to finish the evening in the 13th position.
It didn’t take long for Hingorani and Lewis to find each other’s doors once again, as the two ended up side by side again a handful of laps later. After roughly 15 more laps of side-by-side racing, Hingorani was able to reclaim the lead on lap 65 from Lewis, but the side-by-side battle brought third place Huddleston into the lead battle, who was able to get around Lewis for second shortly after.
Meanwhile, Hingorani was able to pull away and keep control of the race from the lead, until disaster struck. The No. 15 slid up out of the groove into turn 3 on lap 87, hitting the wall hard, bringing out the caution. It ended Hingorani’s chances for an Irwindale sweep this season and gave him a 12th-finishing position.
Lewis was able to take the lead once again on the restart, just like he did on the initial start. However, it was an extremely short-lived lead, as the 17-year-old was penalized by ARCA for jumping the restart, dropping him to the tail end of the lead lap cars. The penalty handed the lead over to Huddleston, who was locked in a battle for second place with the older Nascimento brother when Lewis pulled off the racetrack.
Lewis was able to keep Nascimento and the rest of the field in the rearview mirror from that point on, never looking back, and taking the checkered flag roughly 45 laps later.
The next time ARCA takes to the racetrack, it’ll be next Friday, July 7, as the national division heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Zinnser SmartCoat 150, live on FOX Sports 1. As for the West division, it will return on Saturday, July 29, at Shasta Speedway.
About the author
Josh joined Frontstretch in 2023 and currently covers the ARCA Menards Series. Born and raised in Missouri, Josh has been watching motorsports since 2005. He currently is studying for a Mass Communication degree at Lindenwood University
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.