Race Weekend Central

Kole Raz Picks Up 1st ARCA West Win in Close Finish at Kern

Kole Raz reeled in Trevor Huddleston and the two raced side-by-side for the lead for several laps. They dueled on the final lap and Raz emerged out of turn 4 victorious on Saturday (April 20) night to win the ARCA Menards Series West race at Kevin Harvick’s Kern Raceway.

Raz picked up the first win of his West career in only his third start. He debuted in 2023 with a pair of third-place finishes. On Saturday night, he raced clean but hard and became the series’ newest winner.

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“You know, it was just really good hard racing there, right,” Raz said after climbing victoriously out of his No. 5 Jerry Pitts Racing Toyota. “I don’t get opportunities like this very much and I just had to capitalize on it for Jerry Pitts and Dustin Ash. They haven’t won a race in such a long time. They’ve worked so hard in the shop to bring good quality racecars. And that was a little more rubbing than obviously I wanted. I hope Trevor knows how we raced in the past has always been clean. I just was trying to get it there man and put on a show for the fans.”

Huddleston finished second by 0.058 seconds. He came oh-so-close to scoring the victory at the racetrack that his father Tim Huddleston now owns along with Kevin Harvick.

“All I want to know is if everybody here at Kevin Harvick’s Kern Raceway had a good time or not,” Huddleston told FloRacing post-race. “That was wild stuff, man. All we do is put on a show for you guys. We really appreciate you coming out. I’m pretty pissed off but as long as everybody in the grandstands is happy, I’m happy […] everyone who makes this thing a rocket ship, we were the car to beat tonight. So we’ll go get them here in Portland and go win this championship.”

Polesitter Tyler Reif led the majority of the laps but fell back late to a third-place performance.

“Yeah, I mean great night,” Reif said. “Thank you for my team, everyone for making this happen. It’s definitely a heartbreak. P1 last night, P1 today in practice, two-tenths ahead today in qualifying and led the first 75, then we missed it in the half. So it’s definitely a heartbreak but that’s racing.

“[…] we bring me a great car every weekend and I know we have a lot coming our way and I love that. Let’s go get the championship this year, boys.”

Reigning champion Sean Hingorani finished fourth, driving the No. 24 Sigma Performance Services Chevrolet in a last-minute deal.

Nick Joanides came home fifth, his second career top five and his first since the 13th race of the 2018 season.

Eric Nascimento, Kyle Keller, Paul Pedroncelli Jr., Todd Souza and Eric Johnson Jr. rounded out the top 10 in sixth through 10th, respectively.

The second race of the 2024 West season saw two incidents to accompany the halfway competition caution for yellow flags flown.

On lap 2, Takuma Koga, Raz’s teammate, tangled with Johnny Borneman III, momentarily lifting the tires of Bornerman’s No. 41 off the ground. Borneman wound up three laps down in 11th and Koga five laps down in 15th.

Then shortly before the competition caution, John Moore had a tire on his No. 88 go flat, though he didn’t make contact with the wall or any other competitor. He finished four laps down in 13th.

Otherwise, the field raced hard throughout the night at the 0.5-mile short track. When the checkered flag flew, Raz took home the trophy, the 24th for Pitts as a West series crew chief and his first since Noah Gragson won at Sonoma Raceway in 2019.

West Race Results from Kern

The West takes a little over a month-long break before its next event. The field will make both left and right-hand turns at Portland International Raceway on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m. ET with live coverage provided by FloRacing.

About the author

Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.

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