David Gilliland Conquers Phoenix, Jesse Love Locks Up ARCA West Title

ARCA West Champion, Jesse Love, pilots his No. 19 around Phoenix Raceway. (Photo Credit: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish.)

ARCA West Champion, Jesse Love, pilots his No. 19 around All American Speedway on October 23rd. (Photo Credit: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish.)

What a way to wrap-up a compelling 2020 ARCA Menards Series West campaign. Pole-sitter David Gilliland was forced to rally back from a penalty to win on a last-lap pass over Ty Gibbs in Saturday’s Arizona Lottery 100 at Phoenix Raceway.

Gibbs gave it one last shot to take down Gilliland in the final corner but came up short. This left him very frustrated knowing there wouldn’t be a Phoenix two-peat.

“Old For Firsts”

The now five-time West winner (his first overall ARCA win), Gilliland described it was an exciting victory for not just his No. 4 crew, but the entire stable.

“Since I’ve been coming here, they’ve always put on incredible races. Now with the restarts and the way they are, it was exciting near the end. I was holding my breath for sure and I’m sure those watching had to be,” Gilliland explained.

“I’m just proud of my guys and everybody to come out here and win,” Gilliland continued. “It’s my first ARCA win, so that’s kind of cool. Getting a little old for firsts I guess, but it’s a lot of fun. Great day for our company, first, third, and fourth, so I’m really proud.”

Rounding Out the Top Five

Kern County winner Taylor Gray, two-time West champion Todd Gilliland and ARCA Talladega winner Drew Dollar rounded out the top-five. Trevor Huddleston was the highest West regular finisher as he brought his No. 6 Sunrise Ford home in seventh.

As for the championship, it was 15-year-old Jesse Love who burned it down in front of a limited crowd as he locked up the series championship, giving Bill McAnally Racing its 10th title and the first under the ARCA banner.

Jesse Love gets in the zone prior to claiming the ARCA West Championship. (Photo Credit: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish.)

Blaine Perkins, who was the only driver in contention for the championship, finished 25th after mechanical issues in the second half of the 100-lap race ended his afternoon prematurely.

Entering the year at New Smyrna Speedway, Love was a virtual unknown as he took over Hailie Deegan’s No. 19 Toyota. Ten months later, the Menlo Park, California native can now say that he exceeded expectations by winning the region’s top prize.

“It’s really cool being able to get the championship and do something where the No. 19 team didn’t last year,” said Love. “That’s always a good thing and making the most out of a situation is always a good thing.”

This season, BMR went through a transition as they went with an all-rookie lineup. Love said that while he doesn’t have the most oval experience compared to Perkins, Huddleston, and teammate Gracie Trotter (who finished third in the final standings) he’s made the most out of his opportunity by putting in the work all season.

Gracie Trotter and Jesse Love battle it out on the track. (Photo Credit: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish.)

“I do have a lot of laps on oval pavement racks, but not a lot,” Love said. “I had to do a lot of homework and worked the hardest out of everybody.”

Furthermore, Love added, “I was a workhorse the whole year, so I enjoyed getting to win and it paid off. People saw that and it’s why we probably had some people asking me for different stuff and everything.”

Pre-Race

Entering the race, Love had a 14-point advantage over Perkins and he needed to finish the day eighth or better. However, Love had a huge task at hand as the ARCA East competitors put an absolute stranglehold in the one-hour qualifying session with the DGR-Crosley co-owner (27.452 seconds) taking pole position over Sam Mayer and Gibbs.

In fact, the highest qualifier representing the West was NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Rookie of the Year Zane Smith, who could only mustard sixth. Love and Perkins rolled off 13th and 18th respectively as a rare high count of 27 cars accepted the 100-lap challenge and let their driving tell the story.

A Day to Forget for Several ARCA West Regulars

Right out of the gate, Gibbs made the “Dog Leg” lane work to absolute perfection as he took the lead from David Gilliland. Cautions began breeding cautions on lap 2 when Gio Scelzi took a nasty shunt in Turn 4 which also involved Perkins, Kris Wright, and Todd Souza.

Ty Gibbs awaits for ARCA qualifying. (Photo Credit: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish.)

The driver’s side windshield of Scelzi’s No. 16 NAPA Toyota was bent up, but fortunately, the Roseville winner got out of his car under his own power and went to the care center. This was his final start as he will focus on sprint car racing full-time, driving for multi-time Knoxville Nationals champ KCP Racing.

Gibbs continued leading the way after fending off Mayer and David Gilliland for the top spot on lap 8. Shortly thereafter, the caution quickly came back out for Takuma Koga who crashed in Turn 1.

The West regulars continued taking hard hits as another caution came out on lap 13 for Bridget Burgess who sustained considerable damage on her rear spoiler. Her mom, Sarah Burgess, began working on the damaged No. 88 machine and was able to get the car back on track. The 18-year-old Australian finished 22nd.

East Showcase Once Again

After a rough stretch of cautions, fans finally saw a long stretch of green-flag racing from lap 16 on. However, the tale remained the same with Gibbs setting the pace. That was until lap 34 when both Mayer and David Gilliland were within a few car lengths away from the 18-year-old.

David Gilliland took second away from Mayer following a frenzied battle which later became a duel for the top spot on lap 39. This was a result of Gibbs slowing down because Chris Hacker nearly spun out in the “Dog Leg.” David Gilliland was the benefactor of this near disaster and took the race lead.

Once out front, the former Cup Series driver began lapping several drivers including the two title contenders. Love would fall a lap down on lap 46 as the number of lead lap cars continued dwindling before the halfway break.

David Gilliland held off Mayer when the caution came out as the race was halted for five minutes, giving the competition an opportunity to make key adjustments for the second half. Love crossed the line in 14th, only two spots ahead of Perkins which was still enough to keep him on top of the West standings.

Las Vegas Bullring winner Trotter got the free pass as there were only 11 cars on the lead lap. As for the West regulars, only seventh and eighth-place runners Huddleston and Jack Wood were in the top-10.

Game Over for Several Drivers 

The action resumed with 46 laps remaining with David Gilliland still in command, but ARCA officials posted the No. 4 Ford Fusion for diving on the bottom before crossing the start/finish line following him fending off Gibbs.

Once serving his costly penalty, he was mired back in 11th. Gibbs would re-inherit the lead with 43 to go.

Further back, 18th place Perkins reported over the radio that he was having mechanical issues which became the final nail in the coffin in bringing Bob Bruncati his second West title in the last three years. With just 32 to go, it was game over for the three-time series winner as he brought his powerless No. 9 Sunrise Ford onto pit road and his day was over, giving the title to Love.

Blane Perkins mentally prepares for the challenge at hand. (Photo Credit: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish.)

As if the West regulars were not having an awful day already, it was further cemented with 26 to go when Howie DiSavino III punted Jack Wood, causing him backing it up towards the Turn 4 wall.

Wood got out of his car dejected, but he will at least have a future in ARCA. Wood will be taking over Mayer’s No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet next season and is slated to compete in both East and the Sioux Chief Challenge races.

The fifth caution put David Gilliland back into contention for the win as he restarted in the eighth position when the green flag came out once again with 17 to go.

Gilliland’s Rally

Gibbs was able to hold off the field as Corey Heim, who restarted alongside Gibbs, slapped the Turn 2 wall. This ended his shot to win the finale.

Meanwhile, David Gilliland was a mad man on a mission, rallying back towards the front. He rubbed fenders with one of his cars (Taylor Gray) to assure he has a faster car than Gibbs. The sixth caution came out with 13 to go when Hacker lost control of his No. 12 Toyota, giving David Gilliland (with no letterings on his right front General Tire) yet another shot of regaining the lead as he restarted in fourth.

When the race resumed once more with nine to go, the madness continued, and boy, that was an understatement.

Gibbs tried everything to hang onto the lead until he hit the wall and lost the lead to Mayer. The East champion didn’t last in P1 for long as the DGR-Crosley trio of David, Todd, and Gray made it four-wide on the straightaway – give the point to David Gilliland, as he was the victor in that chaos.

In the same corner where Gibbs hit the wall, Mayer’s left rear tire let go and crashed hard into the wall and his dream year ended behind the wall.

Duel in the Desert Personified

Three laps were left to be settled in an otherwise East Showcase with David Gilliland and Gibbs settling the score. Gibbs pulled the crossover with ease and was back to the front.

David Gilliland just wouldn’t quit as he was side-by-side, banging door-to-door with Gibbs coming to the white flag. He cleared him before reaching the corner. Gibbs gave it one more shot, but could not get it done. This gave the comeback victory to the 2007 Daytona 500 polesitter.

Speaking of being a former Daytona 500 polesitter, David Gilliland said Phoenix is his Daytona these days, and being able to compete with the young rising stars like Gibbs and Mayer made the victory special.

David Gilliland sang high praises for “young guns” like Sam Mayer. (Photo Credit: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish.)

“The young kids coming up through NASCAR and ARCA right now are very good and impressive. We’re fortunate enough to be first-hand in being able to deal with some of those kids and help develop them,” David Gilliland said on the crop of prospects today.

“I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me today. We raced against Ty as a team all year. Sam and those guys had an incredible season. They got really teams behind them and done a real good job.” David Gilliland continued, “Both kids are on top of their game. To come out and put ourselves up against them was going to be challenging, but I ended up in the right (in victory lane).”

Love finished in 14th and officially sealed the deal on the ARCA West title to cap off the 11-round championship trail. He will end 2020 with three wins, four poles, and seven top-three finishes, leaving his mark on his rookie campaign after beating Perkins by 25 points.

“Everyone at BMR has done a great job,” said Love. “We definitely come a long way and won a lot of races, poles and led a lot of laps. Really great job by the guys and it’s been a fun whole year in general.”

ARCA Menards Series West – 2020 Arizona Lottery 100

Phoenix Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Saturday, November 7, 2020

  1. David Gilliland
  2. Ty Gibbs
  3. Taylor Gray
  4. Todd Gilliland
  5. Drew Dollar
  6. Justin Lofton
  7. Trevor Huddleston
  8. Corey Heim
  9. Gracie Trotter
  10. Keith Rocco
  11. Howie DiSavino III
  12. Joey Iest
  13. Alex Sedgwick
  14. Jesse Love, Jr.
  15. Chris Hacker
  16. Devin Dodson
  17. Todd Souza
  18. Kris Wright
  19. Cody Erickson
  20. Bobby Hillis, Jr.
  21. Sam Mayer
  22. Bridget Burgess
  23. Takuma Koga
  24. Jack Wood
  25. Blaine Perkins
  26. Zane Smith
  27. Gio Scelzi

Gio Scelzi waves to the crowd on hand during driver introduction. (Photo Credit: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish.)

luisdtorres94@hotmail.com'
Luis Torres

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR, INDYCAR and ARCA (occasionally F1 and IMSA stuff as well). Whether it's the Daytona 500 or an ARCA Menards Series West race at Evergreen Speedway, content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going.

I've dealt with several challenges in my life, such as autism and making most out of trips despite relying on transportation. Even my quest of finding acceptance in my profession which has been my biggest challenge since graduating from college in 2016. Despite those hurdles with Motorsports Tribune and now The Podium Finish, I promise that you'll see excellence with my content.

Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to The Aces. Not only that, expect my social media filled with GIFs about my Seattle Seahawks because they make things a roller coaster experience.

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