Patrick Staropoli scored his first career win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with a victory in the NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Saturday night.
The win by the 24-year-old driver from Plantation, Fla., marked a return to Irwindale’s Victory Lane for Bill McAnally Racing – which had dominated series competition at the state-of-the-art facility east of Los Angeles between 2001 and 2007.
For Staropoli, who started fifth on the grid in the No. 99 PEAK Toyota, the win came in just his third career series start. Like many others in Saturday’s race, he opted to drop back early in the event and save his tires. After fading back as far as 13th, Staropoli eventually began his move to the front. He capitalized on two late-race cautions to charge from fourth to first – taking the lead with 13 laps remaining. He pulled away to win by a margin of 1.551 seconds.
“We had a hot rod tonight,” said the Harvard University graduate, who balances a limited racing schedule with being a medical student at the University of Miami. ”The PEAK Toyota was flying. It was a game of tire conservation and laying back and knowing when to fire. When we did, the car was good enough to cut right up through the field. We had an awesome battle coming up through there for the lead.”
Staropoli was not the only BMR driver to capture the spotlight at Irwindale on Saturday. His teammate, Brandon McReynolds, netted his first career series Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying – turning a lap of 18.150 seconds at an average speed of 99.174 mph in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. McReynolds, who had also been fastest in final practice earlier in the afternoon, led the race early and went on to finish fourth.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 will be televised on FOX Sports 1 on April 4 at noon ET.
BMR dominated series competition at Irwindale Speedway between 2001 and 2007, winning eight of 11 races – with four different drivers. In addition, BMR garnered a prestigious post-season victory, with Austin Cameron winning the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale following the 2003 season.
Staropoli, who won the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge last year, made two late-season starts in the K&N West in 2013 – finishing fifth and sixth. He began this year by running the first three races in the K&N East – resulting in finishes of sixth, eighth and 11th. Irwindale marked his first start this year in the K&N West and the fourth of five starts he has scheduled overall in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
“It’s been an incredible journey, from the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge to get me where I am tonight,” Staropoli said. “I’m really looking forward to going to Iowa next. That’s kind of the last race we have on our schedule – but hopefully, if we keep having runs like we did tonight, we’ll add a few more. It’s been amazing.”
McReynolds, 22, of Mooresville, N.C., is in his first full season of competing in the K&N West for BMR. He is second in the K&N West championship standings, with an eighth-place finish in the season opener at Phoenix last month to go with his fourth-place finish at Irwindale.
In addition to his four career K&N West starts, his resume also includes 14 K&N East starts. In one of two K&N East races he ran this year, McReynolds finished third on the short track at Daytona International Speedway.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 marked the return of the K&N West to Irwindale Speedway, which had been a popular stop on the circuit from the time the track opened in 1999 until its temporary closure, which came at the end of the 2011 season.
The Irwindale race was the second of 14 events on this year’s K&N West schedule. Next on tap for the series will be a visit to Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway on May 3.