Sam Mayer dominated the ARCA Menards Series West opener on Thursday at The Bullring in Las Vegas driving the No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet. Mayer, a 17-year old racer from Franklin, Wisconsin, led the Star Nursery 150 for all but 13 circuits en route to his first career West victory.
“This is so special. I can’t thank GMS Racing enough for bringing out the best car out here today,” said Mayer after the race in victory lane. “I’m gonna enjoy this one for sure.”
With no pit road and no scheduled breaks to change tires, Mayer and the field had to conserve breaks and tires throughout the race. Thanks to a late caution, Mayer was able to cool his breaks just enough to finish the 56.25-mile event.
“About halfway through the race my breaks pretty much went away. Thank God that caution came out because I was able to cool them down,” Mayer continued. “It was a tough race and this place is a lot harder on breaks than I thought it’d be. That’s what makes a race team and a race car driver – perseverance through adversity.”
Jesse Love was the only competition upfront for Mayer in Thursday’s Star Nursery 150. Love, making his West series debut, led the way for 13 circuits in his No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota after starting second on the leaderboard.
“Probably an A without the plus on the end,” Love said after the race when asked to grade his night. “We started off maybe a little bit too snug but we’re gonna come back swinging next time. We were way better than the rest of the guys running for a West championship.”
Mayer, the 2019 NASCAR K&N East Champion, leaves Las Vegas sitting high atop a mountain as he ended the night victorious last weekend in the ARCA Menards Series East opener at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida.
Blaine Perkins rounded out the top three finishers on Thursday in Las Vegas. The third-place finish gives Perkins his second top five finish in the ARCA Menards Series West division.
“We had a really good No. 9 Sunrise Ford. I’m just really looking forward to the rest of the year,” Perkins said. “This is my first podium finish so I’m just looking forward to this year and Irwindale.”
Gracie Trotter and Trevor Huddleston also took home top-five finishes.
Rest of the top 10 included Lawless Alan, Jack Wood, Todd Souza, Austin Reed and Gio Scelzi.
Two teammates brought out the first caution flag of the evening on lap 25 in turn two. The No. 12 of Lawless Alan got into Gio Scelzi to send Scelzi around. Alan continued in his No. 12 machine.
On lap 64 Austin Reed went around in turn two. Reed, driving the No. 7 car, continued without any further incident.
On lap 80 Zach Telford stalled on the track to bring out the third yellow flag of the evening. Telford did not continue and finished 16th as a result of a mechanical malfunction.
On lap 138, with 12 laps remaining, debris was spotted on the racing surface to bring out the fourth and final yellow flag of the night. With seven laps to go, with Mayer and Love restarting in first and second, the field went back green.
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series West will be at Irwindale Speedway on March 28.
The Star Nursery 150 will air Tuesday, February 25th at 6:00 p.m. ET. on NBCSN.