Tuesday, June 6, 2023

ARCA WEST: Souza’s early crash ends run of success at Portland

PHOTO: Joe Samaniego, @JPSamaniego53

by Ben Schneider
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer

Todd Souza finished last for the 3rd time in his ARCA Menards Series West career in Friday’s Portland 112 at Portland International Raceway when his No. 13 Central Coast Cabinets Ford crashed after completing 7 of 57 laps.

The finish came in Souza’s 112th career West Series start.

A longtime West Series veteran, Souza first competed in NASCAR’s Southwest Series in 2000, qualifying for 16 of the season’s 19 races with a best finish of 7th at Madera Speedway. He’d continue racing in the series until 2005, the same year he attempted to make his debut in what was then the NASCAR Busch Series, failing to qualify at the two road course races at both Mexico City and Watkins Glen. Souza would make up for those DNQs in 2007 by qualifying for Mexico City and the fall Phoenix race, where he finished 23rd and 40th respectively. To date, these are Souza’s only two starts in NASCAR’s three national touring divisions.

Souza’s West Series career began in 2006, qualifying for three of the four races he attempted that season. In 2008, he scored his first (and to date only) West Series win at Miller Motorsports Park, inheriting the victory when Jim Inglebright ran out of fuel on the final lap following a spirited battle between the two drivers. Souza ran part-time until 2017, but scaled back to part-time again the following season before again running all the races in 2019. Since then, he's remained a full-timer, and has scored a best finish of 2nd three times.

One of those runner-up finishes for Souza came in last year’s fall Portland race. After finishing 3rd at the track in June in wet conditions, Souza ran one spot better in dry conditions that September. Unfortunately for Souza, his stretch of top-three finishes came to an end early in Friday’s race. On Lap 8, he ran off course and went head-on into the tire barriers, bringing out the first caution of the race and locking in a 22nd-place finish.

Souza finds the tire barriers.

A total of 24 cars appeared on the entry list. While all ran at least one lap in practice, only 22 took the green flag. First to miss the start was 15-year-old Roxali Kamper, who was scheduled to make her ARCA West debut for Andrew Tuttle’s No. 39 team. However, her car lost an engine in qualifying, just as Tuttle himself did when the series last raced at Portland this past September. Ethan Nascimento was also unable to take the green flag, leaving him and Kamper credited with 23rd- and 24th-place points respectively.

Kamper's No. 39 in the garage Friday morning and on the grid prior to the race with more sponsorship
decals added to the quarter panel.
PHOTOS: Joe Samaniego, Ben Schneider

According to ARCA timing and scoring, Kamper was able to run one lap in practice, though it was likely just a shakedown lap at warmup speed as it was easily the slowest time of the session at 1:51.4. Nascimento’s brother, Eric, placed 23rd with another single-lap run, clocking in at 1:29.1, several seconds off of Ethan’s best lap time of 1:23.5 over nine laps. Ironically, Souza’s car was listed as the fastest in practice, though with timing and scoring crediting him with a 1:12.7 (nearly five seconds faster than second-fastest Sean Hingorani), it is believed he may have cut the chicane when setting the lap. Only 20 cars completed a qualifying run, with both Nasicmento brothers, Kyle Sieg, and Kamper anchoring the time sheets with the bottom four spots. The slowest of those who were able to set a lap time was David Smith, who clocked in at 1:26.3.

Following Souza up the running order in the race was West Series veteran Dylan Lupton, whose series return was short-lived as his No. 24 entry for Bill McAnally came to a stop before bursting into flames during Souza's caution. Lupton had also suffered a similar issue in the afternoon practice session. Next up the order was Kyle Keller, who completed 14 laps before losing an engine. Ryan Philpott also suffered an engine failure on Lap 28, his car the fourth to go behind the wall. Rounding out the Bottom Five was XFINITY Series regular Riley Herbst, whose chances to win literally went up in smoke after 43 laps with “rear end” listed as the reason out.

Lupton's No. 24 in the garage following practice and on fire during the race.
PHOTOS: Joe Samaniego, FloRacing

At the front of the field, Landen Lewis took an impressive victory after a thrilling battle for the win with XFINITY Series regular Cole Custer, who won Saturday's main event. Longtime veteran Dale Quarterley backed up his run at Sonoma last year, recovering from a stop-and-go penalty to earn another third-place finish. William Sawalich and Parker Retzlaff rounded out the Top Five.

24) #39-Roxali Kamper
23) #04-Ethan Nascimento

22) #13-Todd Souza / 7 laps / crash
21) #24-Dylan Lupton / 8 laps / brakes
20) #70-Kyle Keller / 14 laps / engine
19) #52-Ryan Philpott / 28 laps / engine
18) #5-Riley Herbst / 43 laps / rear end

1st) Ford (3)
2nd) Toyota (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing, Performance P-1 Motorsports, Lowden-Jackson Motorsports, Central Coast Racing (1)


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