IRWINDALE, Calif. — Of all who entered Saturday night’s ARCA Menards Series West race at California’s Irwindale Speedway, Trevor Huddleston was the driver who was the most likely to benefit from a wild event.
The 27-year-old who grew up racing on this half-mile oval in Southern California knew exactly how to position himself for a victory, and he did just that.
Huddleston, who is Irwindale’s all-time winningest driver thanks to his success running NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model races at the track over the years, picked up his third career West Series win — and his second such victory at Irwindale — in the NAPA Auto Parts BlueDEF 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, the sixth race of the 2023 season.
Huddleston cruised to the victory after obtaining the lead with roughly 50 laps to go. It was the result of then-race leader Landen Lewis’ penalty for jumping a restart.
This was not a matter of Luck, though. Huddleston had proved through the first two thirds of the race he was one of the fastest cars on track. All he needed was a chance to take the lead.
Huddleston’s first West Series win came at Irwindale in 2019, when he led the last seven laps of the race in what was then the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. He won another West Series race that year at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington.
The 2015 and 2016 Late Model champ at Irwindale, Huddleston didn’t win again in the West Series until Saturday. The victory marked his first under the ARCA sanction.
Though Huddleston showed consistent, race-winning speed throughout Saturday night’s race, the first third of the event painted a different picture in terms of who was most likely to take the checkered flag.
General Tire Pole Award winner Sean Hingorani and West Series championship points leader Landen Lewis spent the first 60 or so laps battling for the lead with neither giving way.
Hingorani finally took the point on Lap 64, but his time up top was short-lived. Hingorani hit the wall entering Turn 3 on Lap 87. The damage was significant enough to relegate the Venturini Motorsports driver to a 12th-place finish.
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) July 2, 2023
That incident put Lewis in prime position to earn his second West Series win of the season. But the aforementioned penalty cost Lewis his spot and bumped him back to a ninth-place result.
Eric Nascimento, who entered Saturday night’s race with one top-five finish on his West Series resume (fifth at Colorado National Speedway in 2021), had a career night with his second-place run. Tanner Reif, Todd Souza and rookie Robbie Kennealy rounded out the top five.
Tyler Reif, rookie Jake Bollman, Nick Joanidas, Lewis and Takuma Koga finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
The ARCA Menards Series West gets a few weeks off before returning to action Saturday, July 29 at another short track. Shasta Speedway in Anderson, California will host the seventh race of the season. FloRacing will provide coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. PT / 11:30 p.m. ET.
A replay of Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts BlueDEF 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame at Irwindale will be shown on CNBC on July 9 starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.