No driver in the ARCA Menards Series West has matched the pace of Jake Drew over the past several months.
After going winless in his first 12 series starts, Drew enters Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts ARCA West 150 at Evergreen Speedway having won the three most recent West Series events at Portland International Raceway, Sonoma Raceway and Irwindale Speedway.
Now possessing a 45-point advantage in the West Series standings, Drew is keeping his expectations high over the rest of the 2022 season and believes he can maintain the efficient status quo Sunrise Ford Racing has put together during their last three trips to Evergreen.
“I’m feeling pretty confident,” Drew said. “Getting three wins in a row is pretty awesome, but [Sunrise Ford Racing] has three straight wins at Evergreen, too. With all this confidence and experience, I feel like we have a pretty strong package going into the weekend.”
Drew admitted he feels relieved knowing his recent success has allowed him to shake his previous nickname of “P2 Drew.”
The path to reaching that point for Drew required him to gain more on-track experience in a stock car. Despite nearly winning the West Series championship in his rookie year, he considered last season to be more of a learning curve that helped him prepare for 2022.
Drew believes the chemistry between him and everyone at Sunrise Ford Racing is stronger than it has ever been, which has him optimistic about his chances to get a fourth straight win on Saturday night even though he has never turned a lap at Evergreen.
A win for Drew on Saturday would make him the fifth different Sunrise Ford Racing driver to visit Victory Lane at Evergreen. Drew anticipates the race to be dependent on track position but is determined to build on his momentum and win the 1,000th race in the history of the West Series.
“It would mean a ton to win the 1,000th race,” Drew said. “I’ve had it circled on the calendar all year. There are so many names that have come and gone through the West Series, especially with [Sunrise Ford Racing]. I was the 200th different winner in the series earlier this year, so I’d love to be the 1,000th race winner, as well.”
Drew will look to make history on Saturday evening when the green flag waves for the NAPA Auto Parts ARCA West 150 at 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET. The race will be streamed live on FloRacing.
Takuma Koga brings experience to Evergreen
Of the 15 drivers entered in Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts ARCA West 150, the one who brings the most experience to Evergreen is Nagoya, Japan native Takuma Koga.
In his two decades of racing with the West Series, Koga has visited Evergreen on seven different occasions. His best performance at the track came during the most recent West Series event in 2020, when he started and finished ninth.
Koga is enjoying one of his best seasons in the West Series. He has three top-10 finishes in six races along with one top five, which he obtained while being patient in a torrential downpour at Portland.
Despite the strong run at Portland, Koga has come across misfortune in the most recent pair of races, as he finished outside the top 15 at both Sonoma and Irwindale after getting swept up in accidents during the second half of each event.
Koga will attempt to get his 2022 season back on track and improve upon his previous best finish at Evergreen on Saturday evening.
Sean Hingorani making West Series debut
The Eric Nascimento-owned No. 4 Toyota will have a new face behind the wheel at Evergreen in the form of 15-year-old Sean Hingorani.
A resident of Newport Beach, California, Hingorani only recently began actively competing in both Legends and Pro Late Models but has quickly started to find a comfort zone ahead of his West Series debut with numerous wins in both disciplines.
The most notable accomplishment for Hingorani so far came over a month ago when he won in just his second start in the SRL SPEARS Pro Late Model Series at Stockton 99 Speedway, where he defeated a talented field of drivers that included West Series regular Tanner Reif and All American Speedway points leader Dylan Zampa.
Hingorani will be the third different driver to pilot the No. 4 in the West Series this year alongside Nascimento and Sebastian Arias, who gave the car its best runs of the season with two eighth-place finishes in both Irwindale Speedway races.
The NAPA Auto Parts ARCA West 150 at Evergreen will present plenty of challenges for Hingorani as he looks to make a strong first impression in Nascimento’s car.
- Trevor Huddleston is the only past winner at Evergreen entered in Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts ARCA West 150, having won with Sunrise Ford Racing in 2019. He will look to add another victory to his resume at the track piloting his own No. 50.
- In his first race partnered with Jerry Pitts Racing at Irwindale, Kyle Keller matched his career-best finish of fourth that he obtained at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring two years earlier. Keller heads into his first West Series start at Evergreen looking to continue that momentum.
- Landen Lewis’ debut appearance with Bill McAnally Racing at Irwindale was far from perfect, but he still managed to bring the car home fifth. With a win already under his belt this year at Kern County Raceway Park, Lewis hopes to put together a much smoother outing at Evergreen on Saturday.
- The other driver making his West Series debut this weekend is David Smith from Sidney, British Columbia. Smith previously filed an entry at Portland International Raceway but ultimately ended up withdrawing from the event.