Taylor Gray was awarded the victory in Saturday's ARCA Menards Series West race at Portland Int'l Raceway. (ARCA Photo)
Taylor Gray was awarded the victory in Saturday's ARCA Menards Series West race at Portland Int'l Raceway. (ARCA Photo)

Penalties Gift Taylor Gray Portland ARCA West Victory

PORTLAND, Ore. — Taylor Gray won Saturday night’s Portland 112 at Portland Int’l Raceway, a victory that marked the 16-year-old’s second win in the ARCA Menards Series West dating back to last season.

He did so despite crossing the finish line third.

Jake Drew, the Sunrise Ford Racing rookie who qualified on the General Tire Pole on Saturday afternoon, crossed the finish line first after a last-lap restart on the 12-turn, 1.967-mile road course. Another rookie, Eric Nascimento, crossed the finish line second ahead of Gray.

But both Drew and Nascimento were penalized by ARCA officials for their missing turn two on the final restart. As a result, Gray was credited with his first victory of the season.

On the last-lap restart following a caution with five laps to go, Gray, having taken the green flag in third behind Drew, appeared to make contact with the No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Stilo USA/Offset Ford going into turn one.

However, ARCA officials determined Drew still missed turn two, as did Nascimento.

Thinking he had won his first ARCA Menards race, Drew sat at the start/finish line until the call was made. The checkered flag instead was handed to Gray several minutes after he had parked his No. 17 Ripper Coffee Ford on pit road.

Drew, who led the most laps Saturday after topping the charts in both practice sessions Friday ahead of his winning the General Tire Pole Award at Portland, was credited with a 10th-place finish.

Nascimento finished behind him in 11th.

P.J. Pedroncelli, the 31-year-old who is racing full-time in the West Series this season in his family-owned No. 33 Toyota, set a new career best with his second-place finish at Portland. His previous career-best finish was third, at Sonoma Raceway (his home track) and at California’s Irwindale Speedway, both this season.

Jesse Love, the 16-year-old defending West Series champion and the points leader through six of nine events in 2021, finished third after the last-lap chaos. The result leaves Love with a 19-point advantage over second-place Drew in the championship standings with three West Series races remaining.

Joey Iest finished fourth at Portland ahead of Takuma Koga, who picked up his second top-five finish in 87 West Series races dating back to 2002.

The finish:

Taylor Gray, Paul Pedroncelli Jr., Jesse Love, Joey Iest, Takuma Koga, Tim Spurgeon, Trevor Huddleston, Stafford Smith, Paul Pedroncelli, Jake Drew, Eric Nascimento, Cole Moore, Rodd Kneeland, Dave Smith, Bobby Hillis Jr., Bridget Burgess, Todd Souza.

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