Tanner Reif celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame for the ARCA Menards Series West at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, California on March 26, 2022. (Michael Owens/ARCA Racing)
Round 2 of the ARCA Menards Series West season on Saturday night at California’s Irwindale Speedway was a statement race for 16-year-old Tanner Reif.
The racer from Las Vegas, Nevada, won the pole and proceeded to lead every lap of the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame to earn his first West Series victory in just his second start.
RESULTS: NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Irwindale Speedway
Reif was rarely challenged throughout the event, but he did have to survive an overtime restart that gave his competition one last opportunity to steal the win. That didn’t happen, but it did open the door for Cole Moore to earn his career-best West Series finish.
Below are the key takeaways from Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts 150, beginning with the dominance of Reif.
There was no one better Saturday night at Irwindale than Reif, who dominated the NAPA Auto Parts 150 en route to his maiden West Series triumph.
The rookie driver for Sunrise Ford Racing and team owner Bob Bruncati drove away from the field the moment the green flag waved. Other than during a few restarts throughout the race, the rest of the field was rarely close enough to him to mount a challenge.
He looked like he had nothing to worry about until a caution flag waved fewer than five laps left when third-place Jake Drew turned Chris Lowden entering Turn 3. The yellow set up an overtime restart, but not even that could intimidate the young racer as he drove away to a 1.494-second margin of victory.
Not a bad way to win your first ARCA Menards race!
Congratulations to Tanner Reif 🏁 pic.twitter.com/bTYsBzrARx
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) March 27, 2022
Reif couldn’t contain his excitement after earning his first West Series victory. After climbing from his car in Victory Lane, Reif postponed his interview with Jessie Punch in order to climb the frontstretch fence to celebrate with the fans in attendance.
“I’m out of breath. I can’t believe it,” Reif said after climbing the fence.
The victory by Reif moved him to within three points of teammate Drew for the lead in the West Series standings after two races.
Bill McAnally Racing drivers Moore and Austin Herzog both earned career-best finishes in the NAPA Auto Parts 150, with Moore coming home second ahead of Herzog in third.
Moore, in his second season driving for McAnally, was able to avoid an incident involving Drew and Trevor Huddleston during the overtime restart to slip into second. His move to avoid Drew and Huddleston was ultimately elected the Reese’s Sweet Move of the Race.
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) March 28, 2022
It topped his previous best finish of fourth on two occasions last season.
“We had probably a fourth-place car,” Moore said. “We’re racing for a championship, so those are some big points we picked up there. I was thankful that Austin ran me clean. We were not great on a long run there. Glad the last restart went in our favor.”
Herzog, making his second West Series start during his rookie campaign, also slipped past Drew and Huddleston amid the overtime restart chaos to secure a third-place finish. He finished 14th in the West Series opener on March 11 at Phoenix Raceway.
“These NAPA guys worked so hard all weekend,” Herzog said. “We did a lot of adjustments between qualifying and the race and they obviously paid off. We had really good adjustments at the halfway break. Can’t thank these BMR guys enough. It’s awesome for the BMR cars to come home two-three.”
Making his 50th West Series start, Huddleston ran near the front of the field throughout the NAPA Auto Parts 150.
Driving for his father, Irwindale Speedway president Tim Huddleston, the younger Huddleston spent most of the race battling for second with Drew while the occasionally challenging eventual winner Reif.
However, the aforementioned contact during the overtime restart between Huddleston and Drew ended any hopes Huddleston had of earning a hometown victory like he did during the 2019 season.
The all-time winningest driver in Irwindale Speedway history instead settled for a sixth-place finish, the last competitor on the lead lap.
- Joey Iest appeared to have a capable car of competing with Reif during Saturday’s race, but bad luck bit the driver from Madera, California. While running second, Iest made contact with the outside wall and was forced to the pits for repairs. He returned to the race multiple laps down and ultimately finished 10th.
- PJ Pedroncelli spent a good portion of the race with the left-front fender on his No. 33 Toyota peeled back, but he still managed to earn a fifth-place finish.
- Saturday’s West Series race at Irwindale featured three caution flags for 14 laps and no lead changes.