BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Landen Lewis is quickly making a name for himself.
Less than a year after winning in just his second ARCA Menards Series appearance at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois, Lewis managed to take home a checkered flag in his ARCA Menards Series West debut Saturday evening in the Salute to the Oil Industry NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
Although Kern County is more than 2,500 miles away from his hometown of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, Lewis quickly took a liking to the half-mile facility during the weekend and is eager to make more trips to the West Coast following his victory.
“I’m kind of speechless at the moment,” Lewis said in Victory Lane. “This place is pretty freaking awesome, and I’m definitely going to be making a trip back while also running on the West tour some more.”
RELATED: Complete results from Kern County
Lewis had plenty of West Coast expertise to lean on at Kern County in the form of his mentor Ron Hornaday Jr., whose long list of accomplishments include four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles and two NASCAR Southwest Tour titles.
Mastering the restarts, which was a staple of Hornaday’s driving style, was pivotal toward Lewis coming away victorious. He ran down Jake Drew for the lead shortly after the halfway break before successfully holding him off during the final restart of the night.
Drew was confident Saturday would finally be the night that saw him break through for his first West Series win. While the second-place run was disappointing to him, Drew took solace over fortifying his small advantage in the point standings.
“P2 Drew has been the nickname for a while,” Drew said. “We had a good car, but it seems like whenever someone from out of town shows up, that’s who we have to fight with. That’s what competition is for, and it was still a good points night in general.”
Drew added that his strong run at Kern County only gives him more confidence in the ability of his team to win the West title after narrowly missing out in 2021. Despite this, he still intends to be in the same position Lewis occupied on Saturday evening.
Lewis, who was greeted with a kiss by Hornaday in Victory Lane, never once doubted that he would be a contender at Kern County and was thrilled to reward Cook Racing Technologies with their first victory as an organization.
“I was confident yesterday when we walked in the gate,” Lewis said. “Bruce Cook and the guys brought me a fast piece, and when we unloaded, I knew we had a car for the race. This wouldn’t be possible without Bruce Cook and the guys. They make this whole deal possible.”
Cole Moore came home in the third position with Tanner Reif building off his first career victory at Irwindale Speedway last month by finishing fourth. Paul Pedroncelli Jr., who earned the General Tire Pole on Saturday evening, completed the top five.
A delayed broadcast of the Salute to the Oil Industry NAPA Auto Parts 150 will be shown on USA Network on Friday, April 29, at 1 p.m. ET.
The ARCA Menards Series West season continues June 4 with a trip to Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. That race will be streamed live on FloRacing.