Thursday, March 30, 2023

ARCA EAST: Moeller sidelined with brake issues in East Series opener

ALL PHOTOS: David PeQueen, @CarSDS2078 

by Ben Schneider Staff Writer

Nate Moeller finished last for the 2nd time in his ARCA Menards Series East career in Saturday’s Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway when his No. 06 River’s Edge Cottages & RV Park Toyota fell out with brake issues after completing 3 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Moeller’s 3rd career ARCA East start.

Moeller’s first last-place finish came almost exactly one year ago at the same track. In his East Series debut, Moeller had his Wayne Peterson Racing No. 06 car renumbered to a Fast Track Racing No. 10 entry as part of a gentlemen’s agreement between Peterson and Fast Track Racing owner Andy Hillenburg. Moeller then ran two laps in the race - one fewer than he completed Saturday - before start-and-parking the car. Across both the East Series and the national tour, Moeller has made a total of six career ARCA starts.

Dale Shearer's car pulls off the track before the start.
While 16 cars appeared on the initial entry list, only 13 started the race. Brad Smith’s No. 48 team was shown on the entry list, though an ARCA spokesman confirmed to Frontstretch’s Mark Kristl a few hours before the race that Smith had withdrawn. Dale Shearer’s No. 98 Toyota appeared on ARCA’s practice and qualifying sheets, though no time was listed on either page. Per MBM Motorsports website and social content contributor David PeQueen, Shearer was able to roll off the starting grid on the frontstretch, but immediately pulled behind the wall, entering the infield while the rest of the grid began the first pace lap. Finally, Rita Goulet, who married in the off-season after making four ARCA starts last year as Rita Thomason, set a qualifying time of 20.832 seconds. After surviving a minor incident in practice with Sean Hingorani, Goulet encountered more trouble at the pit road entrance following her qualifying lap, which, according to PeQueen, appears to be what prevented her from taking the green flag. Goulet’s car was pushed to the starting grid but would later be towed back behind the wall.

Shearer and Goulet were classified 14th and 15th respectively, though Moeller will be credited with the last-place finish as the first car to retire from the race after taking the green flag. Goulet’s qualifying speed would have placed her 13th on the grid just ahead of Moeller, whose fastest lap time was 21.463 seconds.
Rita Goulet's #31 towed to the garage from the grid.

After being promoted to 13th on the grid, Moeller became the first retirement from the race after completing 3 laps. Overheating issues ended the night for Fast Track Racing teammates Dallas Frueh and Tim Monroe, who exited after running 22 and 37 laps respectively. Ed Pompa followed up the order 13 laps down in 10th place in another Fast Track entry, while R.J. Smotherman’s No. 46 Lowden Jackson Motorsports car rounded out the Bottom Five by completing 193 of 200 laps.

At the front of the field, William Sawalich enjoyed a perfect evening as the 16-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing development driver took pole position, led every lap, and won the race. Following Sawalich in 2nd was Luke Fenhaus, the 2021 Slinger Nationals winner who finished 2nd in an SRX race at Slinger the same year. Jake Finch, the son of Phoenix Racing owner James Finch, completed the podium with a 3rd-place finish for Venturini Motorsports.

13) #06-Nate Moeller / 3 laps / brakes
12) #01-Dallas Frueh / 22 laps / overheating
11) #12-Tim Monroe / 37 laps / overheating
10) #10-Ed Pompa / 187 laps / running
9) #46-R.J. Smotherman / 193 laps / running

1st) Toyota (1)

1st) Wayne Peterson Racing (1)


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