All American Speedway has played host to some of the ARCA Menards Series West’s wildest races since its current, third-mile iteration first appeared on the schedule in 2008. Saturday night’s NAPA Auto Care 150 presented by Berco Redwood was no exception.
Four of the series’ top drivers in 2021 — Jesse Love, Jake Drew, Cole Moore and Joey Iest — took turns swapping positions at the head of the field until they began swapping paint, instead. When the smoke from a season-high 11 cautions cleared, P.J. Pedroncelli had ousted all of them to score his maiden victory, prompting an even split of ARCA’s special awards.
RELATED: What we learned at All American
General Tire Pole Qualifying produced the first multi-time polesitter not named Jake Drew this season when Dean Thompson posted a fast lap of 87.071 mph/13.768 seconds. Thompson edged Jesse Love by just 0.001 seconds to claim his second pole of the season. Drew still leads all West Series drivers with three poles in 2021.
Thompson, however, never had the opportunity to lead a lap in the race, as Love jumped out in front and led the opening four laps before his Bill McAnally Racing teammate Cole Moore assumed the point.
The race featured eight lead changes in total, with Moore taking Valvoline Lap Leader honors for leading 79 laps. Not far behind Moore was Drew, who led 53 laps after starting fifth.
Drew held the lead until he tangled with Love and Moore in the closing laps, allowing Iest to emerge as the race leader. Iest led 21 laps but was snookered by Pedroncelli on a one-lap dash to end the race. Pedroncelli led just one lap all night, but it was the most important one.
His winning pass was voted the Reese’s Sweet Move of the Race.
Love sits atop the yearlong Valvoline Lap Leader standings with 183 laps led, with only the 100-lap season finale at Phoenix remaining on the ARCA Menards Series West calendar. Remarkably, seven drivers will have the chance to end 2021 as the overall Valvoline Lap Leader. Taylor Gray is second with 156 laps led in only four starts. Thompson is third with 144 laps led despite being forced to miss races at Irwindale at Portland.
Ty Gibbs, who is expected to compete at Phoenix in November, is fourth with 124 laps led, all coming in the spring race at Phoenix that was a combination event for both AMS and AMSW drivers. Moore (114 laps led), Drew (104 laps led) and Trevor Huddleston (87 laps led) are among the longshots for the award.
Drew was in front at the crossed flags at All American to pick up the Richmond Water Heaters Halfway Leader honors for the second time in 2021. Six different drivers have led at halfway this season, with Drew and Gray being the only repeat halfway leaders.
Pedroncelli wasn’t the only driver who had a career night Saturday. Idaho-based racer Stafford Smith recorded the best finish of his ARCA Menards Series West career by crossing the line sixth. Smith rolled from the starting grid in 15th, earning him the K&N Filters Hard Charger award for his nine-position rally.
The overall championship fight isn’t the only significant battle in the ARCA Menards Series West that will come down to the wire at Phoenix. The Bounty Rookie of the Year standings feature a three-way tie for first between Drew, Moore and Iest, that last of whom was named the All American Bounty Rookie of the Race.
Moore has led the standings for much of the season, but Drew left Las Vegas with a three-point lead for finishing second while Moore placed sixth. Iest forced his way into the battle with his runner-up performance at All American, while Moore rebounded with a fifth and Drew ended the night ninth after an incident with Love on what was supposed to be the final lap of the race before the caution flew.
The path to winning the Bounty Rookie of the Year award is simple for this trio of drivers: Finish ahead of the other two at Phoenix. It may be easier said than done, though, as all three struggled when they ran at Phoenix in March. Moore paced the others by finishing two laps down in 12th. Iest spun late and finished 16th, four laps down, and Drew experienced mechanical issues that left him six laps down in 18th.
While there is no clear-cut favorite in the group, Iest will enter Phoenix with a streak of six consecutive finishes of fourth or better, including a win at Colorado National Speedway.
The 2021 ARCA Menards Series West season will come to an end with the Arizona Lottery 100 at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, Nov. 6. Part of the official NASCAR Championship Weekend, the 100-lap race is scheduled for a green flag time of 3 p.m. ET with live streaming coverage on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
Live timing and scoring for all on-track activity can be found in the Race Center page on ARCARacing.com, while MRN will provide a live radio call of the race. An edited version of the race broadcast will air on NBCSN on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. ET.