Speedway Digest Staff
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Gracie Trotter made history on Saturday by winning the General Tire 150 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and becoming the first female winner of an ARCA Racing sanctioned event.
In just her eighth start in the ARCA Menards Series West, the 19-year-old series rookie from Denver, N.C., made a three-wide pass for the lead in her No. 99 ENEOS Toyota Camry and charged ahead to lead a 1-2-3 finish for Bill McAnally Racing’s rookie drivers. Giovanni Scelzi was second in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS / Curb Record Toyota Camry, followed by Jesse Love in the No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry.
“I kind of got a little lucky there,” Trotter said of her pass for the lead. “The two front cars were battling side by side. I took it three-wide, a little sketchy at first, but I made it stick.”
Trotter, who started ninth on the grid, steadily worked her way forward and made her dive for the lead on Lap 54. She went on to lead 95 of the 150 laps.
“Our ENEOS Toyota was perfect,” she said. “It just took off for me. They kept telling me to back it down. I told them I am backed down. I don’t think I could go any slower. The car wasn’t tight or loose one bit. It just flowed through the corner really good.”
Trotter expressed her appreciation to everyone for their support in getting her first win.
“I can’t thank Bill McAnally enough, Toyota Racing Development, Jack Irving – all those guys,” she said. “I’m at a loss for words right now. My first year in ARCA, out West, far from home – it just really means a lot to me.”
She acknowledged her car had been a little tight earlier in the day, but credited crew chief Roger Bracken with “working his magic” to get the car dialed in.
Holley Hollan, in a fourth BMR Toyota, appeared headed for a possible career-best podium finish, but was slowed by a flat tire with less than 15 laps remaining and had to settle for a ninth-place finish in her No. 50 JBL/NAPA Filters/NAPA Belts & Hoses Toyota Camry.
Scelzi, meanwhile, congratulated Trotter and talked about his career-best series finish – which topped three previous finishes of third this year.
“It’s awesome for Gracie to get her first win today,” he said. “That’s pretty cool.”
“I knew brakes were going to be a problem today,” said Scelzi, an 18-year-old from Fresno, Calif. “I pushed too hard early and on that Lap 50 caution I had no brakes. At that point I was just worried about losing them again. I didn’t ride at the right time and didn’t push at the right time. Especially when it’s hot like that, guys were blowing tires. It was a race to save your stuff. She did a great job and had the best race car.
“It’s awesome for BMR to finish 1-2-3,” he said. “I think that’s our first this year. For NAPA and Toyota, it’s cool to have all our hard work pay off.”
Love – a 15-year-old from Menlo Park, Calif. – won his third pole award of the season in qualifying and led the first 33 laps of the race. He got shuffled back by Trotter, however, and then diced with her for the lead later in the race.
“First off, congratulations to the team,” he said. “1-2-3 is a pretty big deal. It’s super cool for Bill. He’s done a great job managing the team and getting everybody faster.
“We got beat today,” Love said. “We’ll get better and come back next time better.”
He speculated he may have been slowed by engine issues that developed throughout the race.
Nevertheless, Love was able to extend his lead in the championship standings to 15 points – with his top competition running into problems of their own. In eight starts this season, Love has seven podium finishes – along with a fourth-place finish.
Trotter remains third in the point standings – 30 points out of first and 15 markers behind second. She has top-five finishes in all six short track events this season. In addition to her role at BMR, Trotter also drives for Rev Racing as part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. She recently won her first Late Model race at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
Scelzi’s runner-up finish propelled him to fourth in the standings. He is 43 points out of the lead and 13 behind Trotter.
Hollan, who is making the transition this year from open-wheel racing on dirt to competing in stock cars on asphalt, is seventh in the standings.
The previous best finish by a female driver in the 68-year history of ARCA Racing was second, which Trotter matched earlier this season. The East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series evolved this year to become the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West.
NAPA AUTO PARTS was represented at the race, with involvement from the NAPA Distribution Center in Las Vegas and NGK. The event also featured a VIP guest crew member.
- Lessard started in the 15th position after a performance matrix based off finishing position from the previous race, ranking in the owner points standings and the fastest lap from the previous race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
- In the opening laps, Lessard had worked his way into the top-10 before tagging the outside wall. On Lap 4, Lessard brought his Tundra to the pit lane as veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. called for the over-the-wall crew to change only right-side tires and clear the fenders. Unfortunately, Lessard reported another flat tire on Lap 7 and was summoned back to pit road.
- The diagnosis was that the inside fender was rubbing the right-front tire. Under the competition caution, the No. 4 team utilized the time to fix the fenders.
- Lessard would finish the stage in the 33rd position, three laps down.
- At the stage break, Lessard radioed to his crew that his Mobil 1 Tundra was wrecking loose. In an effort to gain a lap, Hillman kept his rookie driver on the track to take the wave around. Lessard would start the stage from the 31st position, two laps down.
- As the entire stage went green, Lessard was able to maintain his position two laps down and would finish the stage in the 28th position.
- During the stage caution, Lessard radioed to his crew that his Tundra was still "wrecking loose". Hillman summoned his driver to pit lane for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. Lessard would start the stage from the 28th position.
- After the fourth caution fell on Lap 85, the lead-lap trucks all came down pit road. Hillman kept his driver out on the racetrack to get another lap back on the leaders. Lessard would restart from the 27th position, one lap down.
- When the fifth caution flew on Lap 91, Lessard fell short of getting into the free pass position, so Hillman called his driver down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel, adjustments and to repair some damage. Lessard would restart from the 28th position.
- Over the final 43 laps Lessard was able to work his way up to finish in the 20th position.
Orcutt’s Dylan Thornton made his return to action in the Golden State a fruitful one, as he claimed the $1003 opening night victory of the tenth Pettit Shootout at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville. The IMCA Modified victory came during a blockbuster night with 158 cars in the pits across the three divisions competing. The $3006-to-win 53-lp IMCA Modified finale is set for Saturday night.
After 16 heat races and ten B-Mains, the fields were set for the 24-car features for the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, and Hobby Stocks.
The nightcap was the 33-lap feature for the Modifieds which opened with a significant crash in turn four. Andy Orbetello spun across turn four and clipped Robert Marsh. The ensuing melee saw Marsh and 2018 track champion Austin Burke both flip. They were uninjured but done for the night.
Prunedale’s Tim Balding led the early laps while Thornton looked inside Danny Lauer for second. William Gould spun out of the top-five for a caution on lap seven. On the restart, four-time Pettit Shootout Saturday night winner Bobby Hogge IV battled with 2020 Antioch Speedway champion Troy Foulger for third. Hogge took the position on lap 12. Hogge then went upstairs to challenge Thornton for second.
Thornton adjusted to the top himself, going around the outside of Balding to lead lap 16. Hogge took over second on lap 17 as well.
Bakersfield’s Jerry Flippo used a three-wide maneuver to knife into third after starting 17th. Hogge attempted to pass Thornton on the outside on several occasions but was nullified by lapped traffic. Thornton grabbed the win with Hogge disqualified in post-race inspection. The ruling thrust Flippo into second over Foulger, Balding, and 19th starting Robby Sawyer.
Grass Valley’s Andrew Peckham claimed the 23-lap IMCA Sport Mod race worth $503 to win. Phillip Shelby of Yuba City led from the pole position while Fred Ryland charged from 13th to sixth by lap five. Peckham attempted to pass Shelby on the inside of the backstretch on three separate tries. He finally made the move work on lap ten, using Jim DiGiovanni as a pick in lapped traffic.
A hard crash in turn three including Bakersfield’s Austin Manzella brought out the caution a lap later. Guy Ahlwardt advanced to second on the restart. Ryland went to the top to move up to second by lap 20, however. Shelby led Ryland, Ahlwardt, Todd Gomez, and KC Keller as the top-five finishers.
Bakersfield’s Dylan Wilson survived an onslaught of challenges to take the $303-to-win Hobby Stock main event. The event began with multiple spins on each end of the race track, culminating with a caution when Breanna Troen could not avoid an incident in front of her. Wilson battled with fellow Bakersfield driver Kevin Irwin. Irwin took over the lead on a restart near halfway but Wilson battled back. Wilson looked inside Irwin down the backstretch in lapped traffic forcing a four-wide move on lap 12.
Wilson then made the decisive pass on lap 14 while Irwin fell through the pack. 17th starting Tyler Bannister and 2019 Pettit winner Nicholas Johnson – also both from Bakersfield – drove through the field to hound Wilson to the finish. Wilson held the lead throughout the final laps, leading Bannister, Johnson, two-time Pettit winner Billy Nelson, and track points leader Joe Gallaher at the finish.
The tenth Pettit Shootout continues Saturday with a 53-lap feature for the IMCA Modifieds, 33-laps for the IMCA Sport Mods, and a 23-lap affair for the Hobby Stocks. Drivers will continue to battle for a litany of prizes on top of a nearly $25,000 cash purse. For more information, visit www.racepmg.com Action will get underway at 4pm live on FloRacing.com
Ocean Speedway PR
- Smith started from the fifth position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
- The Georgia native fell back a few positions in the early stages of the race. After the competition caution on Lap 10, Smith elected to start on the outside of the fourth row.
- He was running seventh on Lap 16 when he got aero loose underneath another truck and lost the rear-end of his JBL Tundra. He went sliding up the track nearly making contact with another competitor but was able to remarkably gain control of his Toyota and continue on while only losing two positions.
- The No. 51 team would end Stage one in the 10th position.
- Smith communicated to veteran crew chief Danny Stockman that his JBL Tundra was "really snappy" before hitting pit road for four fresh tires and fuel with a major chassis adjustment before the start of Stage Two.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver lined up on the inside of row six when Stage Two went green on Lap 37. He would settle into the 13th position for most of the stage but lost one position in the closing laps and would finish 14th.
- The 18-year-old driver reported being loose on entry before hitting pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with more adjustments before the start of the Final Stage. He chose to line up on the inside of row six when the Final Stage went green on Lap 67.
- He communicated that the JBL Toyota was "skating" early in the Final Stage and fell back to the 15th position on Lap 75. As he began to log more laps, the truck began to come to him and before the fourth caution slowed the field on Lap 84 was back up to the 12th spot.
- Stockman summoned his young driver down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel, and another major chassis adjustment. Once again, he lined up on the inside of the sixth row for the ensuing restart.
- A bold move to the inside once the field went back green allowed him to move up to the eighth position before the fifth and final caution slowed the field for the final time on Lap 90.
- On the ensuing restart, Smith lined up on the inside of the third row. He fell back to the seventh position on Lap 97, but then maneuvered his way back inside the top five on Lap 100.
- As a long green-flag run ensued, he began posting his fastest lap times of the night and on lap 106 made his way up to the fourth position. He would lose one spot with 10 laps remaining and bring his Toyota home in the fifth position for the second consecutive race.
- Eckes started from theninth position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
- He had fallen one position to 10th when the competition caution flew on Lap 10. Eckes reported that the Safelite Tundra was a little too free. Veteran crew chief Rudy Fugle elected to keep his driver on track and Eckes chose the outside of the fifth row when the field went back green on Lap 14.
- Eckes was able to advance up to the sixth position, but on the final lap surrendered a spot to a truck who pitted during the competition caution and had fresher tires.
- With the seventh-place stage result, Eckes was awarded three stage points.
- Eckes communicated to Fugle that his Toyota was "too free and can't commit to the throttle on exit," before hitting pit road for four fresh tires, a chassis adjustment and full load of fuel.
- A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew allowed Eckes to exit pit road third. For the ensuing restart on Lap 38, he chose to line up on the inside of row one.
- The Safelite Tundra settle in line in the fifth position on Lap 40, but over the final 20 laps of Stage Two fell back two positions to seventh as he communicated to Fugle that his Toyota was "free center and exit."
- Another seventh-place stage result earned Eckes three more stage points.
- After hitting pit road between stages for a four-tire and fuel stop, Eckes exited pit road fifth and chose to restart from the inside of the second row for the start of the Final Stage on Lap 67.
- With a strong restart, the talented teenager was able to make his way to the lead before the field crossed the stripe. He maintained the lead until Lap 72 before he began to fall backwards in the top five.
- Eckes lost his spot in the top five on Lap 81 and was scored in the sixth position when the fourth caution of the event occurred on Lap 86.
- He communicated to Fugle that the bumps in Turn 1 upset his Toyota and that the right-rear tire was sliding on the exit of both corners. Fugle summoned his young driver down pit road for four tires, fuel, and a major chassis adjustment.
- The Safelite Tundra would line up on the inside of the third row for the ensuing restart on Lap 89 and one lap later was scored in the third position when the fifth and final caution of the night slowed the field.
- When the field reached the choose-lane arrow, the 19-year-old driver lined up on the top of row two. Eckes took the momentum he got on the restart to the high line and found himself four-wide with the top-three trucks. The inside lanes would prevail, and he settled into line in the fifth position on Lap 96.
- As the race proceeded caution free to the finish, Eckes fell back two positions over the final 40 laps and ended the 134-lap event with an eighth-place finish. It was the eighth top-10 finish this season for the No. 18 team.
Derek Kraus saw a possible top-five finish in the McAnally-Hilgemann Racing No. 19 Shockwave/ENEOS Toyota Tundra slip away in the final segment of the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday.
He got shuffled back after the final restart of the World of Westgate 200 and subsequent contact with the wall took him out of contention.
The 19-year-old series rookie, who started 14th on the field, was able to make an early charge to the front after his MHR team opted to put on fresh tires during a competition caution on Lap 10. He was third at the end of the first stage on Lap 30 and finished the second stage in fourth at Lap 60. He put on a charge at the start of the final stage, moving to third on Lap 75 and into second a few laps later.
Kraus, along with the other leaders, pitted for tires and fuel during a caution on Lap 84. He got shuffled back in back-to-back restarts and ended up bouncing off the wall. The damage ruined the handling of the Tundra and left him to limp to a 30th-place finish.
Derek Kraus – Thoughts about this week
Talk about your Las Vegas race
“We had a really fast Shockwave Toyota tonight. Unfortunately, our race ended early after we got into the wall.”
Austin Hill rebounded Friday night, using a great final restart to earn the Playoff win in the World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hill, who started 11th, reminded his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series competitors there’s a reason he won the regular season title.
Hill took the lead for good on a restart with 39 laps remaining after jumping out ahead of the night’s most dominant driver Sheldon Creed. Creed led a race best 89 of the 134 laps but ultimately finished runner-up by .546-seconds.
Tanner Gray finished third, followed by Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith. Grant Enfinger, Zane Smith, Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum – all Playoff drivers – rounded out the Top-10.
"I was probably looking in my mirror more than I was looking out front," Hill conceded of keeping Creed behind. "I knew he was better than we were and I knew I was going to have to protect.
"We didn’t have the best truck tonight, by no means," Hill added. "We had to fight a lot of adversity in Stages One and Two. We weren’t good at all and [crew chief] Scott [Zipadelli] and the guys kept working on it and got better and better.
"The pit crew did a hell of a job on that last pit stop getting me in position I needed and I just had to go out there and get it and that’s what we did."
With 11 laps remaining and Creed valiantly trying to catch Hill, hiss No. 2 GMS Racing Chevy truck hit the outside wall. He dropped from inside a second of catching Hill to falling more than a second behind. Yet he turned in an amazing push in the final laps to keep Hill honest.
It marks the second victory of the season for the 26-year old Georgia-native Hill and matched his Playoff win at Las Vegas last year. Most importantly, it gives Hill the automatic berth in the next round of the 2020 Playoffs. Entering the Las Vegas race, Hill had been ranked eighth of the 10 Playoff drivers – the final transfer position after a rare non-Top-10 finish (25th) in last week’s Bristol Playoff opener.
The victory was that much sweeter for his team since his No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota truck carried a very special name for NASCAR’s “Honor a Cancer Hero” weekend. Hill’s truck honored “Torie Costa” Zipadelli’s 20-year old daughter, who passed away from cancer in 2015.
Creed certainly takes away some positives from the night, despite his heart-breaking ending. He swept both stage wins, besting Brett Moffitt in Stage 1 and Zane Smith in Stage 2 by a dominating 4-second advantage. The effort gave Creed seven stage wins on the season – most in the series.
"Just frustrating, the best truck I’ve had all year and best truck I’ve had at this race track," Creed said, disappointedly explaining his night. "We’re all racing hard. We’re in the playoffs, can’t really complain, that’s racing. Fought hard, back to second."
As for the other Playoff eligible drivers, Todd Gilliland finished 14th, Brett Moffitt was 15th and Ben Rhodes – who spun out and brought out one of the race’s five caution periods, was 23rd.
The Playoff standings now show Hill with an automatic berth into the second round. Creed is ranked second, followed by Moffitt, Smith, Ankrum and Eckes. With his tough night, Rhodes dropped to ninth place – six points behind Eckes with one race remaining to set the eight-driver second round field. Gilliland is 10th – 19 points behind Eckes.
In addition to the championship intrigue, the race featured a pair of new entrants – action sports star and former NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Travis Pastrana and IndyCar driver Conor Daly ran NEICE Motorsports trucks. The idea was taking a fierce iRacing competition between the two into “real life.”
This round went to Daly, who finished 18th in his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series debut. Pastrana’s truck suffered a couple early race setbacks and he went down a lap at one point, but rallied to a 21st place finish.
The next race – and final first round competition - is the Talladega 250 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Saturday.
Cannon McIntosh took the lead on lap three and went on to dominate the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship feature at the Gas City I-69 Speedway Friday night, leading the final 28 laps on the way to winning for the second time in the last three USAC events. It marked the third consecutive USAC win for the Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) Toyota team.
McIntosh has earned five national midget victories this season as the only driver to win features in USAC, POWRi and Chili Bowl Nationals competition. Overall, Toyota-powered drivers have registered 27 national midget car feature victories in 2020.
McIntosh’s KKM teammate Daison Pursley started from the pole and would go to the lead at the drop of the green flag, with McIntosh starting from the fourth position. McIntosh quickly began moving up in the field and by lap three, he would overtake Pursley for the top spot.
The Bixby, Oklahoma, native then quickly began to pull away from the field, stretching out a 2.3-second lead. As McIntosh opened up a healthy advantage, the action began to heat up behind him. Pursley remained in the second spot through the early going, but fellow Toyota driver Thomas Meseraull climbed from the seventh starting position to challenge Pursley. The two would eventually get together between turns one and two on lap 11, bringing out a caution as Meseraull would spin to a halt.
Heading into the restart, McIntosh would lead Pursley, Tyler Courtney, Kyle Cummins and Andrew Layer back to the flag.
Courtney would overtake Pursley for second by the mid-way point of the 30-lap event, but could do little in closing the gap with McIntosh, as he once again pulled out more than a two-second advantage.
As McIntosh maintained a comfortable lead, behind him the driver on the move was Tanner Thorson, who started the race from the 17th position. By lap 20, he would climb into the fifth position and then eventually overtake Pursley for fourth two laps later.
No one had an answer for McIntosh up front, though, who, despite coming up on heavy lapped traffic in the final 10 laps, would go on to win by 1.791 seconds over Courtney. Cummins would place third, while Thorson and Emerson Axsom made it three Toyotas in the top-five by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
“We weren’t that great in the heat race, but it was enough to put us in a decent spot for the feature,” said the 17-year-old McIntosh. “We made some changes and the car was killer in the feature. We got caught up a little in traffic at the end, but my car was just dialed in tonight. Thanks to my family and everyone on this KKM team. I couldn’t do it without Toyota, Mobil 1, JBL and everyone who supports us.”
Toyota-powered drivers also captured positions six through ten with Justin Grant, Buddy Kofoid, Pursley, Chris Windom and Tanner Carrick rounding out the top-10.
The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship is back in action Saturday night at Kokomo Speedway.