by Ben Schneider
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer
Nick Joanides finished last for the 2nd time in his ARCA Menards Series West career in Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Irwindale Speedway when his No. 77 Jan’s / King Style / Old Taco Toyota crashed out of the race after completing 94 of 150 laps.
The finish came in Joanides’ 20th career West Series start.
Joanides’ first career last-place finish came in his series debut with Puskarich Racing in 2004, finishing 29th at Fontana after a crash sidelined him 10 laps into the 100-lap race. After running part-time in the West Series 2004 and 2005, Joanides enjoyed the best season of his racing career in 2009, winning a total of 17 races across Late Model and Super Late Model Showdown events. He also won the California state championship in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series while placing third in the national standings. Joanides attempted to qualify for a Nationwide Series race at Memphis in 2009, though his Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet failed to make the race.
In 2018, Joanides returned to the West Series with Joe Nava’s Performance P-1 Motorsports team, where a fourth-place finish at All American Speedway in Roseville set a new career-best for him in the series. After only competing at Irwindale in 2019 and 2021, Joanides made six starts in 2022 with a best finish of 10th at Roseville. Saturday’s race at Irwindale marked his first start of the 2023 season.
A total of 18 cars appeared on the initial entry list, but due to the withdrawals of Ryan Roulette and Jalen Mack, only 16 started in the race. Joanides’ qualifying time of 19.595 seconds saw him place 15th on the grid, ahead of only Bobby Hillis Jr.’s No. 27 First Impressions Press Chevrolet. Hillis also brought up the rear in practice with a time of 20.262, but was able to improve slightly in qualifying to run a 19.858.
Due to a lack of “start-and-park” entries, the race’s first retirements did not come until a four-car accident on a Lap 97 restart. R.J. Smotherman got into the back of David Smith, which sent Smith spinning into Eric Nascimento. Joanides was unable to slow in time to avoid hitting the back of Smotherman and received further damage due to additional contact with Nascimento. Of the four involved in the crash, Smith was the only driver able to continue and finish the race under power. Nascimento’s younger brother, Ethan Nascimento, completed 109 laps before retiring with a mechanical issue. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Jake Bollman, making his West Series debut for High Point Racing.
At the front of the field, Bollman’s teammate, Trevor Huddleston, qualified on pole and led the first 72 laps. The race then became a battle between Landen Lewis and Sean Hingorani for the win. After swapping the lead back and forth a few times, Hingorani retook the lead for good from Lewis on Lap 134 to score his first West Series win in only his sixth career start.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
16) #77-Nick Joanides / 94 laps / crash
15) #46-R.J. Smotherman / 94 laps / crash
14) #4-Eric Nascimento / 96 laps / transmission
13) #04-Ethan Nascimento / 109 laps / mechanical
12) #55-Jake Bollman / 111 laps / crash
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES WEST MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford, Toyota (1)
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES WEST OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Fast Track Racing, Performance P-1 Motorsports (1)
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES WEST DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP
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