2021 General Tire 150 at Phoenix Raceway
After almost months of waiting since the start of the season at Daytona International Speedway, the ARCA Menards Series will drive to the General Tire 150 at Phoenix Raceway on Friday evening (March 12th). Following Corey Heim’s dominant Daytona win, 18-year-old Georgian-born Marietta and his competitors are going to race this 1-mile tarmac arena for 150 laps in Avondale, Arizona.
General Tires 150 on Friday night is the second ARCA race at Phoenix Raceway.
Last year, Chandler Smith beat Venturini Motorsports team-mate Michael Self by just 0.303 seconds over the checkered flag, while Ty Gibbs, Tanner Gray and Zane Smith rounded off the top five.
While Chandler Smith and Tanner Gray won’t compete this time around, Gibbs and Zane Smith return to the fight along with Nick Sanchez, Takuma Koga, Drew Dollar, Jesse Love, Thad Moffitt, Gracie Trotter and Tim Richmond.
With over 66% of the field making their first ARCA start in Phoenix, the second race of the season looks like another open fight that stock car veterans and hot shots on the track mix up.
One of those young racers who appear to be in combat on Friday night is 20-year-old Jack Wood of Loomis, California. The GMS Racing driver, who finished ninth at the season opener in Daytona, is preparing for his second national ARCA start in Phoenix. As Mark Kristl of Frontstretch announced, Wood will drive the entire ARCA schedule for this year.
One of the favorites at the ARCA race on Friday night is certainly the trio of talented drivers from Bill McAnally Racing.
Enjoyed nice sunny weather as we prepared the Camrys for the ARCA West season opener in Phoenix this Friday 😁 pic.twitter.com/SrFuHbaspb
– Bill McAnally Racing (@BMR_NASCAR) March 9, 2021
With Jesse Love on No. 16 next to Derek Kraus on No. 19 and Cole Moore on No. 99, these three young racers seem to be prepared for an ARCA win in Phoenix. Kraus hopes to at least repeat his strong eighth place in Phoenix, an achievement he achieved at the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in autumn 2018.
Love, on the other hand, is hoping to improve on his 16th place last March and 14th place in the ARCA West season finale last year while Moore doesn’t have to start an ARCA race in Phoenix.
Love watched the fights he faced in Phoenix for decent results and discussed the approach he will take for Friday night’s race.
“I always feel like I’ve been pretty good at Phoenix, whether it’s sim testing or a qualifying round,” Love said on a pre-race Zoom conference call. “We’ve always had weird things (in Phoenix). Last year we ran this [No.] With 19 cars in the spring, we had a really good chance of finishing in the top three and five.
“We came back from old tires and cracked the top 5 and had contact with the 15 who put us in the wall. Phoenix is one of those weird deals that I feel really good about but haven’t had the ending to show off. So we just have to keep doing what we did and everything will take care of itself. “
Of course, there is another group of competitors from the Venturini Motorsports Camp. The trio of Dollar, Trotter and Heim seem ready for the race, and the fast Toyota Camrys is ready for a fight.
Although Heim did not start in the national ARCA race last year, he finished 25th and eighth in the ARCA West races in 2019 and 2020.
Heim observed the intensity that will prevail on the track with the large number of cars on Friday evening.
“I think the competition and the number of cars will definitely be higher than most of the tracks on the schedule, but that’s really good for me,” Heim said on a Zoom conference call before the race. “I just have to go out and do my job. And I have to qualify well, stay in front throughout the race and put myself in a good position.
“So it’s really no different than if I were doing it on a different weekly basis. They’re obviously trying to get out there to win pole and the race every week. It’s a little bit more pressure to go out there and be special in qualifying just so you don’t start in your 20s or 30s. As for my rivals, I think I’ll be up against everyone. There’s not really anyone I’m looking for. I just have to go out there and hit everyone. “
Dollar (14th) and Trotter (22nd) hope that their somewhat disappointing results from last March will not be carried over to the 150-lap race. Instead, Heim is hoping to repeat his Daytona magic while Dollar looks to add one position to his strong season opener result.
Last year, Zane Smith took a respectable fifth place for team owner Steve McGowen. Returning to McGowen’s # 17 for race two of the ARCA season, Smith is inflated and ready for a shot to claim his fifth career ARCA win.
ARCA Racing @phoenixraceway this Friday. 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/gJoaECkYK1
– Zane Smith (@ zanesmith77) March 9, 2021
While Toni Breidinger starts her first ARCA race in Phoenix, the 21-year-old from Hillsborough, California, finished in a respectable 18th place in Daytona. Breidinger is returning for another start in Young’s Motorsport’s # 02 Chevrolet and can’t wait to drive in Phoenix.
See you there https://t.co/tHcsviZD85
– Toni Breidinger (@ToniBreidinger), March 4, 2021
Rev Racing’s Nick Sanchez has more than one new paint job to look forward to on lap two of the season in Phoenix.
New look for Phoenix 🤔 pic.twitter.com/ILFHVKLCa4
– Nicholas Sanchez (@ Nicksanchez080) March 1, 2021
While Sanchez teased a new look for his # 2 Chevrolet, there’s no joke about the 19-year-old’s steady racing talent. Born in Miami, Florida, sixth at last year’s ARCA race in Phoenix, he was enthusiastic about his season.
“Starting with Phoenix and the rest of the schedule, I’ve never been more confident in a year,” Sanchez told Frontstretch. “To see what my team has done and what Max Siegel has invested is heartwarming, impressive and a great confidence boost.”
Another driver to see this week is 19 year old Bridget Burgess. With the No. 88 Chevrolet from Sarah Burgess, the famous off-road racing driver, Burgess wants to make her national ARCA debut before setting off on another formidable form of motorsport.
The BMW Z3 will prepare for drifting after my ARCA race in Arizona so stay tuned! 😊
And don’t forget to check out @konigwheelsusa and @GTRadialUSA pic.twitter.com/sJPZTgAKGr
– Bridget Burgess (@ 8BridgetBurgess) March 5, 2021
Riders like Burgess, who will primarily compete in the ARCA Menards West Series, will compete alongside some of the best in the national series.
Another western racer to consider on Friday night is Takuma Koga, 43, of Nagoya, Japan. The driver of Jerry Pitts’ Toyota No. 7, who finished a solid 13th place at Phoenix last year, is hoping to be in the mix for a top 10 result.
While Koga has some experience in Phoenix, 15-year-old Taylor Gray will make his 13th ARCA start on this 1-mile route. Gray set up an excellent sub-plan last year in which he scored eight top 5 finishes and 11 top 10 results in his 12-race season.
“The last races in Phoenix, No. 17, went very well with my brother in the spring and then with me in the fall,” said Gray in a team press release. “Finishing third in my first race on the track was pretty cool and I think we have a great opportunity this time to back it up with another solid run. It will be my first race with the Ripper Coffee colors on the car so hopefully we can give them a good performance. “
While Thad Moffitt may be a 20-year-old racing driver, he’s a veteran in today’s ARCA scene with 29 career starts. Moffitt, who finished 18th last year, hopes to avoid some problems in the late race in his # 46 Ford.
“Phoenix is a super fun circuit and one of my favorite tracks we visit,” stated Moffitt in a team press release. “If you get people to get on and use the traction mass, the track opens up and you can use multiple lanes during the race. Restarts are also insane as everyone fans the dogleg four to five times. There are a lot of great cars entered this weekend so it should be a great race. “
If there had to be a favorite for Friday night’s ARCA race in Phoenix, 18-year-old Ty Gibbs seems like a natural choice. After all, the eight-time ARCA race winner knows his way around this unusual speedway. Gibbs drove 122 laps at race height before settling for third place.
Gibbs, who won last month’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, hopes to give his No. 18 Toyota some of that winning feel against its 29 rivals on the track.
Before these drivers and teams can think about the 150-lap battle, their focus is on the only one-hour practice session that leads to the all-important qualifying on Friday afternoon.
The General Tires 150 at Phoenix Raceway will kick off Friday, March 12th at 7:30 p.m. (CET) with TV coverage from MAVTV as it broadcasts live on Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold.
About the author
Rob Tiongson joined Frontstretch in 2021 and is a motorsport journalist who has been reporting on NASCAR since 2008. As one of the earliest and original Featured Columnists for Bleacher Report’s NASCAR coverage from 2008-10, Rob founded ThePodiumFinish.net (TPF) Independent Motorsports Media in 2010, focused on delivering “The Inside Line to Motorsports”. Originally a solo company, Rob leads a team of 13 columnists and photographers for TPF. In addition, Rob is a contributor to NASCAR Pole Position and the Out of the Groove Weekly Viewer’s Guide, a position he has held since 2020. Rob is the ARCA editor for Frontstretch and would like to contribute to ARCA, IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR. Outside of the world of journalism, Rob enjoys exercising and debating the merits of great music (everything from the 1950s to early 90s is played on his Spotify playlist) as he adjusts to life as a Yankee (he really is a Boston Red Sox -Fan). in Texas.