ROSEVILLE, Calif. — P.J. Pedroncelli said after Saturday night’s NAPA AutoCare 150 presented by Berco Redwood at All American Speedway he was not pleased to see a caution fly on the race’s final scheduled lap. He would have been thrilled with a career high second-place finish, he said.
But that last-lap caution set up the overtime restart that allowed the 31-year-old from Sonoma, California, to win his first ARCA Menards Series West race in dramatic fashion.
With the green and white flags waving simultaneously following the late caution, race leader Joey Iest fired off from the top lane. But Iest was unable to clear Pedroncelli’s No. 33 Select Mobile Bottlers Toyota in Turns 1-2 of the third-mile paved oval in Roseville, California.
By the time the leaders reached Turns 3-4 on the last lap, Pedroncelli had the inside locked down, and he was able to muscle past Iest coming off Turn 4 to take the checkered flag.
That’s career win No. 1️⃣ for the Sonoma, California, native!
What. A. Finish. pic.twitter.com/mjsuWrnWPG
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) October 10, 2021
Pedroncelli, who has been racing in the West Series on and off since 2008, earned his first series win in his 21st start.
“We fought hard the whole race,” Pedroncelli said. “I was trying to conserve at the beginning, got involved in some stuff. I don’t even know how this happened. We came all the way from the back.”
The result was also huge for West Series points.
Pedroncelli entered the penultimate race of the season tied for fourth in the standings. He was 15 points back from leader Jesse Love.
Now Pedroncelli is second in the standings, just a single point behind Love heading into the season finale at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 6.
Pedroncelli’s first West Series win came with his family in attendance. That includes his father Paul, who was in the field at All American and finished 23rd.
“It means the world,” Pedroncelli said, fighting back tears, when asked what it was like to share this moment with his loved ones. “It’s really cool.”
Love suffered a disappointing 12th-place finish, which primarily was the result of a late-race incident with championship rival Jake Drew.
Drew coming to the white flag at All American got into the back of Love’s No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota in Turns 3-4, sending the defending West Series champion in to a spin.
Led laps tonight and kept our car clean. Felt like we raced our championship competitors with respect this year. But that respect didnt go both ways. We got wrecked by the 9 who we’re racing against for the championship. But my approach to Phoenix is narrowed down, just run hard!
— jesse love jr (@jesselovejr1) October 10, 2021
The incident was significant since Drew entered the night seven points back from Love in the season-long title race.
Drew finished eighth at All American. He dropped to third in the championship standings, but he is just three points back from Love and two points behind Pedroncelli.
Iest finished second Saturday night at All American ahead of Trevor Huddleston in third, Todd Souza in fourth and Cole Moore in fifth. Those results left Iest fourth in points and Moore fifth.
Stafford Smith, Christian Rose, Drew, Takuma Koga and Amber Slagle rounded out the top 10 at All American.
Given the stunning turn of events championship points-wise Saturday night at All American, the ARCA Menards Series West is set up for an epic season finale in a few weeks at Phoenix. The the top five drivers in the West Series championship standings will enter the last race of the year separated by just six points.
The Arizona Lottery 100 is scheduled to take the green flag at noon MT / 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 6, as part of a doubleheader with the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ championship race later that evening.
The West Series season finale will be shown live on TrackPass with a radio broadcast available on MRN.
A replay of Saturday night’s NAPA AutoCare 150 presented by Berco Redwood at All American Speedway will broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, Oct. 14, starting at 5 p.m. ET.