When it was announced the ARCA Menards Series West was heading back to The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sam Mayer and GMS Racing knew they had to add that race to their schedule. It was a chance to return home and pay homage to Spencer Clark, a former racer who was killed in a traffic accident in 2006 at just 19 years old.
Mayer took the Spencer Clark Foundation tribute paint scheme to victory lane Thursday night at the family’s home track to kick off the 2020 ARCA West season. After setting a new track record in qualifying, the defending ARCA Menards Series East champion led 134 of the 150 laps en route to the checkered flag in just his second series start.
It was the second win in 10 days for Mayer and GMS, who also won the East opener at New Smyrna Speedway during the World Series. However, this win was extra special due to who it was for.
“It’s so special. I never had a connection to Spencer but being with the team, I feel that connection. It’s really special to have him on the car and it’s really emotional,” Mayer said on the NBC Sports Gold broadcast. “Even before the race we were feeling the emotions of it, and now we’re definitely going to feel it after a victory like that. We definitely did what Spencer would’ve done, go out there and wax the field.”
While running away from the field throughout the duration of the race, Mayer’s biggest challenge came from within. Brakes were an issue for all teams during the race, and Mayer was no exception.
“About halfway through the race my brakes pretty much went away. Thank God that caution came out because I was able to cool them down a little bit,” he said. “It was a tough race and this place is a lot harder on brakes than I thought it was going to be, but that’s what makes the race team and the race driver, persevering through adversity.”
Jesse Love IV made the most of his ARCA West debut, leading laps early and finishing second as the highest-running West regular. The result had him looking forward to what’s to come in his rookie season with Bill McAnally Racing.
“We were pretty good, the team had the car on a rail the whole time. We started off maybe a little bit too snug but we’re going to come back swinging next time,” Love said. “We were way better than the rest of the guys that are going for the West championship. We’ll come back and hopefully win Irwindale. Sam did a hell of a job the whole time, I thought we got him one time but he had a really good long run car and he’s been doing it a long time.”
Blaine Perkins finished third, ahead of rookie Gracie Trotter and Trevor Huddlestion.
The ARCA Menards Series West will be off for a month before their second race of the 2020 season at Irwindale Event Center on March 28.
ARCA Menards Series West – Star Nursery 150 Results:
- Sam Mayer
- Jesse Love
- Blaine Perkins
- Gracie Trotter
- Trevor Huddleston
- Lawless Alan
- Jack Wood
- Todd Souza
- Austin Reed
- Gio Scelzi
- Takuma Koga
- Holley Hollan
- Bobby Hillis Jr
- Joey Iest
- Chris Lowden
- Zach Telford
- Bridget Burgess
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: GMS Racing