Tyler Reif’s stunning victory Friday at Phoenix Raceway was historic for multiple reasons.
First, it marked the first time a standalone ARCA Menards Series West team won a combination race with the ARCA Menards Series.
The history of combination races between the ARCA Menards Series and the West Series dates back to 1992 at Texas World Speedway. Mickey Gibbs scored the final of his three ARCA wins in the NASCAR/ARCA Texas World Speedway Shootout, an event that featured a 44-car field and 60 total entries spilt among what was then the ARCA Hooters SuperCar Series and the NASCAR Winston West Series.
Gibbs finished just ahead of Roy Payne and polesitter Loy Allen Jr., who gave ARCA regulars a podium sweep. Fifth-place finisher Jerry O’Neill and 10-place finisher Gary Wright gave the ARCA teams five top-10 finishers, while the West teams had the other five with fourth-place John Krebs, sixth-place Rick Carelli, seventh-place Ron Hornaday Jr., eighth-place Bill Schmitt and ninth-place Butch Gilliland.
The race was run again in 1993, and two groups who registered as West teams won, with NASCAR Cup Series superstars Darrell Waltrip and Ken Schrader sweeping the top two.
Tim Steele was the highest finishing ARCA regular in third, while recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Hershel McGriff finished fourth in the first true standalone West entry.
The two series didn’t race together again until 2021 at Phoenix. The ARCA Menards Series teams dominated on the West’s home turf, sweeping the top four positions with winner Ty Gibbs followed across the line by Corey Heim, Thad Moffitt and Kyle Sieg. Derek Kraus and Jesse Love were next to give the West Series regulars their highest finishers, and Todd Souza and Trevor Huddleston also racked up top-10 finishes.
The 2022 race again saw ARCA Menards Series teams sweep the top four positions, with Taylor Gray and Daniel Dye first and second, and Sammy Smith and Rajah Caruth third and fourth. Jake Drew, who would go on to win the West Series championship, was the highest finishing West regular in fifth. Josh Berry, driving for long-time West Series owner Steve McGowan, was eighth, and Derek Kraus was ninth — the only other West drivers in the top 10.
But 2023 flipped the script.
Reif won despite an early-race crash that left his Lowden-Jackson Racing Toyota with damage to the right rear quarter panel. Landen Lewis, in the McGowan entry, finished second, and Bradley Erickson, driving for another longtime West owner in Mike Naake, finished third. Andres Perez de Lara gave Rev Racing its second consecutive fourth-place finish at Phoenix and was the only ARCA Menards Series regular among the top five. Kyle Keller rounded out the top five, giving West regulars four of the top five finishing positions.
While Reif had three previous ARCA Menards Series West starts, it was his first ARCA Menards Series start, making him the 36th driver since 1979 to win in his series debut.
Other drivers who have won in their first ARCA Menards Series starts include Kyle Petty (1979, Daytona), Phil Parsons (1980, North Wilkesboro), Billie Harvey (1980, Talladega), Tim Richmond (1981, Daytona), Mark Martin (1981, Talladega), Rick WIlson (1984, Daytona), Mickey Gibbs (1988, Daytona), Ernie Irvan (1989, Atlanta), David Green (1992, Nashville Fairgrounds), Harold Fair (1993, Five Flags), Scott Neal (1994, Salem), Tobey Butler (1996, Salem), Kenny Irwin, Jr. (1998, Daytona), Adam Petty (1998, Charlotte), Mario Gosselin (1999, Charlotte), Ron Hornaday, Jr. (1999, Atlanta), John Finger (2001, Watkins Glen), Casey Atwood (2002, Pocono), Scott Riggs (2004, Pocono), Joey Miller (2004, Nashville Superspeedway), Travis Kvapil (2005, Pocono), Stephen Leicht (2006, Nashville Superspeedway), Chuck Barnes, Jr. (2006, Toledo), James Buescher (2007, Lakeland), Matt Hawkins (2008, Iowa), Joey Logano (2008, Rockingham), Patrick Long (2009, New Jersey), Brennan Poole (2011, Salem), Alex Bowman (2011, Madison), Austin Theriault (2014, Michigan), Brandon Jones (2014, Winchester), Todd Gilliland (2015, Toledo), Trevor Bayne (2015, Pocono), Travis Braden (3015, IRP), Christopher Bell (2016, Salem) and Myatt Snider (2016, Toledo).
Only two drivers have won their first two ARCA Menards Series starts. Bowman followed his win at Madison with a victory at Kansas Speedway. Jones chased his win at Winchester with his second at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.