By Sam Mayer’s standards, he’s due to get back to Victory Lane.
All the 17-year-old from Franklin, Wisconsin, did last year was win four of this 12 starts in the East series en route to becoming the youngest regional or national series champion in NASCAR history. And then he started 2020 with a win in the newly-minted ARCA Menards Series East opener and followed it up with a win in the ARCA Menards Series West. The only blip was a mechanically-induced 20th place run at Phoenix Raceway in March.
Since ARCA has returned to racing, Mayer has a second-place run at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway and a third-place finish at Pocono Raceway. Both events where won by Ty Gibbs.
He’ll get another shot at getting back to his winning ways Friday night when the ARCA Menards Series goes to Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis for the Calypso Lemonade 200. It will be the series’ first race with fans since Phoenix, and will also air live on MAVTV and online on TrackPass on NBC Gold.
"We had probably the second fastest car (at Lucas Oil) last year," said Mayer. "We just missed it on the last pit stop. We went a little too far on the adjustment. If we hit our marks this time — and I give the correct information — (crew chief) Mardy (Lindley) is obviously going to make a really good call, no matter what, we’ll definitely have the car to beat if everything goes to plan."
Mayer finished third behind race winner Chandler Smith and runner-up Christian Eckes in a rain-shortened event.
The race is also the second of the Sioux Chief Showdown. Smith holds the points lead by virtue of his Phoenix win.
Unlike Talladega and Pocono, Lucas Oil will feature a full schedule that includes a practice session and qualifying before the race.
"That’s definitely going to help us a lot because we know this race track and we have really good notes for it," said Mayer. "We’ll unload fast, but having that extra practice time to get it right where it needs to be is definitely going to help a lot."
Mayer is still looking for his first ARCA Menards Series win. He came close at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in Illinois last year, before a bum-and-run from Gibbs on the final lap put Gibbs in Victory Lane instead.
"That was a tough pill to swallow; that would have been my first ARCA Menards win," said Mayer. "Hopefully it comes soon.
"Hopefully we can show up this weekend and go out and win."
Home Track Advantage?
After an up-and-down day on the road course at Utah Motorsports Park, Trevor Huddleston is happy to be heading back to his home track of Irwindale Speedway Saturday for the fourth race of the ARCA Menards Series West season.
The 24-year-old from 24-year-old from Agoura Hills, California, has won three track championships (2015-17) in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. He also won the LKQ Pick Your Parts Late Model opener this year.
"I’ve gone Irwindale quiet a few times," said Huddleston with a laugh on a video conference with media this week. "I’m sure I know that track pretty well. I’ve just got to keep the momentum going and go into Irwindale looking to have some fun. In all these crazy times, it’s fun to be back at the race track."
Trevor’s father, Tim Huddleston, is also a multi-time Late Model champion at Irwindale and is now the track owner. Huddleston’s Late Model team, High Point Racing, has provided development opportunities for many drivers over the years, including current NASCAR Cup Series driver Cole Custer, and Trevor’s teammate at Sunrise Ford Racing, Blaine Perkins.
Perkins is the track’s defending weekly series champion and is coming off two General Tire Pole Awards and his first career ARCA Menards West win at Utah.
"He’s probably got the most momentum of everybody," said Huddleston, who won the West race at Irwindale last year. "I was able to work with Blaine way back when. … So when I was teaching him and we talked about everything. But maybe there are a few tricks I have up my sleeve, that I can go out there and beat him.
"But really it would be cool if we could go out there and pull off a 1-2 finish for Sunrise.
Michael Self leads Drew Dollar by 13 points in the ARCA Menards Series standings, and Hailie Deegan by 17. Deegan finished fifth and Self sixth at Lucas Oil last year.
Smith leads Self by a point and Gibbs by two in the Sioux Chief Showdown standings. Tanner Gray and Zane Smith round out the top five, while Deegan is seventh.
– DGR-Crosley (@DGR_Crosley) July 1, 2020
Max McLaughlin will make his ARCA Menards Series debut at Lucas Oil. The 20-year-old son of former NASCAR national series driver Mike McLaughlin, had a win and finished fifth in the East last year and is seventh in points in the ARCA Menards Series East after two races.
Derek Griffith is looking forward to the return to a short-track. The 23-year-old from Hudson, New Hampshire, turned heads with a strong runner-up finish at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February and registered a top-1o run in his first trip to Pocono. "Having the opportunity to practice and qualify on Friday is something I think we can execute well and get a good feel of where we need to be for the race," said Griffith, who will be in the ride that Corey Heim finished fourth in last year for Chad Bryant Racing.
Joey Iest, 17, will be making his second career West start. The Madera, California, driver qualified third but finished 14th at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the opener.
With a win and two runner-up finishes, Jesse Love has built a nine-point lead over Perkins in the West standings. Love and Bill McAnally Racing teammates Gio Scelzi and Gracie Trotter occupy three of the top four spots in the standings. BMR has won 13 of the 27 West races that the track hosted since opening in 2000.
Brittney Zamora will be making her ARCA debut in the No. 42 for Jefferson Racing. Zamora, who has two pols and six top five finishes in 20 starts across the East and West series, finished eighth at Irwindale last season running for BMR.
Sneak peak ?
Can’t wait to hit the track this Saturday at Irwindale with Jefferson Racing in the ARCA West Series! pic.twitter.com/NCT525yR0s
– Brittney Zamora (@Brittneyz52) June 30, 2020
Catch Up on TrackPass
While the Irwindale race will be closed to fans, it will stream on TrackPass on NBC Gold, as well as Friday night’s ARCA Menards Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway.
In addition, race fans can replay the ENEOS/Sunrise Ford Twins presented by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame from Utah Motorsports Campus from last weekend.
– NBC Sports Gold (@NBCSportsGold) July 2, 2020