Bridget Burgess completes Phoenix race in P22, as Trotter & Breidinger crash out on lap 1
ARCA Menards series returnee Bridget Burgess crossed the finish line at the General Tire 150 at Phoenix despite technical issues, while other two female racers Gracie Trotter and Toni Breidinger were involved in a Lap 1 incident.
Almost one month after the Daytona season opener, the ARCA Menards Series and the Series West joined forces for a combined round at Phoenix Raceway: at the General Tire 150 event in Arizona, three ladies were found on the starting grid : Gracie Trotter, Toni Breidinger and Bridget Burgess.
The Venturini Motorsports driver was the protagonist of a strong first half of the race in Daytona, where she constantly an in the top-5 and led several laps before being caught one some contacts. She hit trouble in the final stages, which ultimately cost Trotter a convincing result at Round 1.
"Having raced at Phoenix twice last year, I’ve learned a lot about the characteristics of the track and I know it’s all about running a clean race and building momentum,” said Gracie before the second race of the 2021 season.
"You can move around a lot and find different groves all the way around, especially in turns three and four. I’ll use the experience I gained last year with passing cars and learning how the car changes throughout the race to better execute passes and where to move around if the car gets to loose or tight.” – she added.
Toni Breidinger returned behind the wheel of the #02 Young Motorsport Chevrolet after being the best female finisher at Daytona, with very clean run to P18.
“I started 31st, moved my way up to 10th, had an error, and then finished the race on the lead lap and managed to avoid all the wrecks. " – said the 19-year old driver about the Daytona inaugural round. She became the first Arab-American to enter a NASCAR sanctioned event.
Bredinger was new to the Phoenix Raceway and thus made her debut at the venue in Friday's event.
“The goal is definitely to complete all the laps, finish the race and learn the track the best that I can. " – said Toni.
“Achieving those three things would be a success for my team and I and momentum to carry to the next ARCA Menards Series race.”
Australian born Bridget Burgess, who will run the ARCA Menards Series West season, returned to the series after 9 starts in 2020. Racing in the #88 HMH Construction-sponsored and family-run Chevrolet, her weekend started in the most difficult way, when qualifying was rained out.
The tricky weather conditions, in fact, forced the series to cancel qualifying and the 30 entries lined up on the grid based on friday practice speeds. This meant Ty Gibbs took pole, ahead of Corey Heim, while Gracie Trotter was fifth, Toni Breidinger was P21 and Bridget Burgess P24.
Ty Gibbs led 124 out of the 150 laps and clinched the victory after defending from Heim's final attack attempt, following a last lap restart from a caution with 7 laps to go.
This was just one of the seven cautions that interrupted the General Tire 150 on Friday night; the first of them would reveal particularly costly for two of the women of the series.
Gracie Trotter collided with Zane Smith on the opening lap as they approached Turn 3 and hit the wall: when the cars bounced back, Toni Breidinger and Jack Wood also got involved in the crash and the four competitors were forced to an early retirement.
"We started off a little bit tight, I thought we were good, but the #17 got down a little bit.", said trotter on the live broadcast. "But it’s stuff that happens, it’s just a racing deal and we’ll move on to the next one."
Bridget Burgess kept it clean and managed to run a solid race. She gained some positions but a fuel pressure issue relegated her to a P22 finish after she had lost several laps during repairs.
"Out of 30 cars, I started 24th because there was no qualifying, worked my way up to 18th and just as I was working for 17th place I lost fuel pressure, so I pulled in and my team, along with David Lewis and help from other people, got it fixed. Unfortunately, by the time I got back out there I was 32 laps down, but I didn't give up and I drove it like I stole it!" – explained Burgess.
"I brought it to the finish line and got 22nd place." – concluded Bridget on her social media profiles.
Talladega Superspeedway will host the next ARCA Menards Series event on April 24th, while the Series West will see its next green flag on June 5th at Sonoma Raceway, California.