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ARCA Menards Series West
Cars in action during the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series West at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, on June 5, 2021. (Matt Cohen/ARCA Racing)

NOTEBOOK: Drivers, teams aim for unprecedented victory at Portland

Only three drivers in the field for Saturday’s Portland 112 (4:25 p.m. PT / 7:25 p.m. ET on TrackPass) have experience at Portland International Raceway in a West Series car. But Todd Souza, Dave Smith and Tim Spurgeon have zero Portland victories among them.

In fact, only one driver or team owner on Saturday’s entry list has been to Victory Lane after a West Series race on the 12-turn, 1.967-mile road course in Portland, Oregon.

Portland 112: Entry List | Schedule | Preview

Bob Bruncati, the head of the Sunrise Ford Racing operation, owned the No. 6 Ford that Luis Martinez Jr. drove to a win in the 2011 Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 at Portland. The West Series has raced at Portland just one time since, when Greg Pursley won racing for Gene Price in 2012.

Now under the ARCA banner as the ARCA Menards Series West, the series is back at Portland for the first time in nine years. And a new group of drivers and teams are looking to join Bruncati as victors at the track.

Among them is West Series team owner Bill McAnally, who is far from new to racing at Portland but who has never fielded a winning car at the track despite multiple strong bids.

Bill McAnally Racing drivers have five top-five finishes over three Portland races from 2010-12. Three-time West Series champion Eric Holmes finished second at Portland for BMR in both 2010 and 2011. He also finished third in 2012. Paulie Harraka placed third at Portland in 2010, and Moses Smith finished fourth in 2011.

Jesse Love
Jesse Love, driver of the No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, in action during the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series West at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, on June 5, 2021. (Matt Cohen/ARCA Racing)

Jesse Love, the 16-year-old defending series champion who currently leads in points, and rookie Cole Moore will get their chances to put BMR in Victory Lane at Portland on Saturday.

In the series’ first road race this year, at Sonoma Raceway in June, Love experienced mechanical trouble and finished 19th. But he did provide BMR its first road-course win last season with a victory at the Utah Motorsports Campus.

Moore, who sits second in points and leads the rookie standings, finished fourth at Sonoma.

A BMR victory at Portland would mark the 35th track on which the team has scored a win. Ironically, its first victory back in 1998 came in Portland at the now-shuttered Portland Speedway, a half-mile paved oval.

Driving for Bruncati in Saturday’s Portland 112 are series regulars Trevor Huddleston and Jake Drew. Neither has scored a win in 2021, but both have four top-10 finishes through five West Series races thus far this season.

David Gilliland, another prominent car owner who has never fielded an entry — let alone won a West race — at Portland, will attempt to do so with Taylor Gray behind the wheel of his No. 46 Ford on Saturday.

Like those listed above, with the exceptions of Souza, Smith and Spurgeon, any other driver who reaches Victory Lane this weekend at Portland will have done so in his or her first series start at the venue.

Grand Prix of Portland

Saturday’s Portland 112 is part of a smorgasbord of racing at Portland International Raceway over the weekend, as the Grand Prix of Portland is in town.

The motorsports festival’s main event is Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series race. But all three days — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — are packed with on-track action.

The West Series will hold a pair of practice sessions on the course Friday, with the first at 2 p.m. PT and the second at 3:50 p.m. PT. USAC Quarter Midgets and Indy Lights cars also will practice Friday.

Saturday brings IndyCar’s pair of practice sessions as well as qualifying for the West Series (10:35 a.m. PT), USAC and Indy Lights. The Portland 112 is scheduled to start at 4:25 p.m. PT / 7:25 p.m. ET, after the Indy Lights race and before the USAC race.

A second Indy Lights race begins Sunday’s schedule prior to the main IndyCar event that afternoon.

Thanks to this merging of ARCA Menards Series West and IndyCar events, a special guest will give the command to start Saturday’s Portland 112.

Simon Pagenaud, the 37-year-old who drives the No. 22 Chevrolet for Team Penske in the IndyCar Series with a partnership with Menards, will do the honors a day before he races in the Grand Prix of Portland.

And more:

  • Bridget Burgess, the 19-year-old from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, will be comfortable racing at Portland even though it’s just her second road-course event in the West Series. Burgess and her mother/crew chief Sarah live in Tooele, Utah, and work at the Utah Motorsports Campus, where Bridget practices road racing. She finished eighth at Sonoma earlier this year.
Bridget Burgess
Bridget Burgess, driver of the No. 88 HMH Construction Chevrolet, prepares for the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series West at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, on June 5, 2021. (Matt Cohen/ARCA Racing)
  • Eric Nascimento will make his fourth ARCA start Saturday at Portland driving his own car. The Manteca, California, native already has a pair of top-10 finishes in just three West Series starts, all this season.
  • Caleb Costner will make his ARCA debut Saturday at Portland driving for Joe Nava’s Performance P-1 Motorsports team.

  • Both P.J. Pedroncelli and his father, Paul, are entered in Saturday’s Portland 112, marking the fifth time the father and son have competed in the same West Series race this season driving their family-owned cars. P.J. finished third at their home track in Sonoma in June; Paul’s best finish is an 11th-place run at Irwindale Speedway in July.
  • Stafford Smith, a 23-year-old from Eagle, Idaho, is back in the field for a West Series race for the first time since 2017. He has 21 series starts dating back to 2016 with four top 10s on his resume.
  • A total of 17 road courses have hosted at least one ARCA Menards Series West race: Willow Springs, Kitsap County Airport, Riverside International Raceway, Marchbanks Speedway, Cotati, Oregon International Raceway, Sonoma Raceway, Westwood Road Course, Laguna Seca Raceway, Continental Divide Raceway, Seattle International Raceway, Tacoma Street Course, Spokane Street Course, Heartland Park Topeka, Utah Motorsports Campus, Portland International Raceway and Brainerd International Raceway.