Dominant season carries Jake Drew to first ARCA Menards Series West championship

In 2021, Jake Drew watched his ARCA Menards Series West championship disappear on the last lap of the season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

In 2022, Jake Drew needed only to start the season finale at Phoenix on Nov. 5 to secure his first series championship.

“It’s been a dream this year, honestly,” Drew said. “I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to be able to do this.”

Driving for Sunrise Ford Racing, owned by Bob and Maureen Bruncati, Drew drove the No. 6 Ford to a series-best four victories during the 2022 campaign.

He scored his first victory of the season at Portland International Raceway on June 4 and followed that with consecutive victories at Sonoma Raceway and Irwindale Speedway. Drew’s fourth victory of the year came in the tour’s return visit to Portland on Sept. 3.

RELATED: Jake Drew’s 2022 ARCA Menards Series West stats

Along with his four victories, Drew scored four poles, nine top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. His worst finish of the season came during the finale at Phoenix, where he finished 13th.

As if that were not good enough, there was a seven-race span during the season in which Drew finished no worse than second. That run started with a runner-up finish at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California, on April 23 and ended with a second-place showing at All American Speedway in Roseville, California, on Oct. 1.

“It doesn’t even seem real to me,” Drew said. “I was almost in shock just going through the middle part of the season. I finally clicked off that first win at Portland and oh my gosh, that was amazing. Then we went back-to-back weeks and we went to Sonoma and clicked off another one.

“Then we went on to Irwindale and oh my gosh, I got my first oval win. Now we’re three in a row. It was a dream come true, really.”

The 2022 West Series championship comes in Drew’s second season in the series. He completed his first season with the tour in 2021 and lost the championship to Jesse Love via a tiebreaker after both drivers finished the year with 438 points.

“I came into last year as a rookie with very minimal experience, so to even go to the last race in Phoenix and even be contending for a championship was such an honor to me,” Drew said before the 2022 finale at Phoenix. “I felt excited to be a part of that.

“Then to move forward a year and just have an excellent year with wins and poles, just dominant performances almost every time, it’s been amazing to show how much we’ve grown and show how much I’ve grown. We just kind of showed everybody what we could do.”

No tiebreakers were needed this year, as Drew entered the finale with a whopping 56-point lead on teammate Tanner Reif in the driver standings. He closed the year with a 53-point advantage on Reif.

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 04: Jake Drew, driver of the #6 Sunrise Racing-Molecule-Group A Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the 2022 ARCA Menards Series West championship after the ARCA Menards Series West Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 100 at Phoenix Raceway on November 04, 2022 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Jake Drew celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the 2022 ARCA Menards Series West championship after the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 100 at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 4, 2022. (Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

For Drew, winning the championship and adding to the incredible legacy of the Bruncati family and Sunrise Ford Racing meant the world, especially after it was announced that Bob and Maureen Bruncati were planning to retire from car ownership in the ARCA Menards Series West at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

“The first time I came into the shop, the first things I noticed were the banners along the shop wall of all the previous race wins and rookies of the year and championships that they’ve collected over the years,” Drew said. “It was really a special feeling to be a part of this program and to be brought on and given a shot to do this, and for somebody to have faith in my abilities and be given an opportunity to show what they’ve got.”

So, what’s next for Drew?

While he doesn’t yet have a ride in place for the 2023 season, Drew is planning on moving to North Carolina to be closer to the NASCAR industry. His hope is to secure an opportunity in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

“2023 is 100 percent in the works,” Drew said. “I would love to be behind the wheel of a Truck. I will be making the move to North Carolina in the offseason just to try and put myself in the mix and meet more great people and chase my dreams of being in NASCAR.”