Venue: Evergreen Speedway
Finish: Tanner Reif 15th, Eric Johnson Jr. 11th
Start: Tanner Reif 7th, Eric Johnson Jr. 14th
A top-five performance for Tanner Reif in the Bill McAnally (BMR) Racing No. 16 Blue DEF, NAPA Nightvision Chevrolet SS ended suddenly, just past the midway point in Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series West NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. Reif was pursuing his second-straight victory at Evergreen in front of over 200 NAPA VIP guests.
The 17-year-old from Las Vegas, Nev. made a strong charge in the first half of the race, but he was sidelined after contact with the wall as the race restarted following the midway break.
Teaming with Reif at Evergreen Speedway was Eric Johnson Jr., who drove the No. 19 Key Property Services entry to an 11th-place finish at the historic fairgrounds track. Johnson, 20, from La Center, Wash., was competing in his third race this year with BMR while making his first start on an oval in the series.
Reif, who won at Monroe last year in making his only previous series start at the speedway, started seventh on the grid and quickly mounted a charge to the front. He was in the top five by Lap 25 and fourth by Lap 50. He held that spot when the yellow flag came out on Lap 77, for the midway point of the race.
In a shuffle on the restart, he got loose and clipped the wall, which caused his right front tire to go flat as he headed into Turn 1. He slid into the wall – putting him out of competition, with a 15th-place finish.
Johnson, who competed on road courses in his two previous series starts, started 14th in his first oval appearance. He ran a steady race, moving up as he got the opportunity, and came home in 11th – while obtaining his goal of gaining plenty of valuable experience.
Tanner Reif Quote:
“The NAPA Chevy was super fast on a long run and I was able to catch and pass several cars. At the break, the BMR crew tightened the car up just a little. When we went green, the car in front of me missed a shift and I got them in the center of Turn 3, then hit a bump and was loose coming off the corner. I clipped the wall, which caused the right front tire to go flat. When I went into Turn 1, the car didn’t turn and hit the wall. I want to thank all the crew on the BMR NAPA Chevy for giving me such a fast car.”
Eric Johnson Jr. Quote:
“As a driver, this race was incredibly important and one I’ll remember for a long time. Since I began racing four years ago, I’ve had a constant craving for new learning experiences and tonight was just that. While I want nothing more than to be competing for wins, races like these are a necessity if I want to be that driver. It was a dogfight, a constant search for grip as we fought a free car all night, but the number 19 crew gave me all the information I needed to adjust to the conditions. I can’t thank them all enough.”