Bridget Burgess has strong run at Portland despite mechanical issues
Bridget Burgess battled fuel pressure issues throughout the Portland GP weekend but, with one of her strongest drives to date, she had almost bagged a fourth place finish - before a transmission issue demoted her to tenth. But the Australian's first top five is just a matter of time.
20-year-old Australian Bridget Burgess is arguably having her strongest season to date in stock cars, at her third season at ARCA West level. Last weekend's performance at the Portland Grand Prix – run in conjunction with the penultimate race meeting of the 2022 IndyCar season – is further proof of Burgess' progression, despite a weekend hampered by technical issues.
Her final result – a tenth place that adds another top-ten to her tally – is in fact in no way representative of the potential she showed during the ARCA Portland 112 event, where the young driver of the #88 HMH Construction Chevrolet put on one of her best runs in the series.
Burgess secured her first top-ten of the season at the same venue, when the series visited Portland International Raceway in June – finishing seventh, in what remains her best result of the season so far. Bridget then kept momentum with a tenth place at Sonoma – further proof of her great form on road courses, which she had already shown in the past.
Coming off another top-ten finish at the NAPA Auto Parts ARCA West 150 at Evergreen Speedway, Burgess was eyeing to top her personal best at the eighth round in Portland – and she would have easily achieved the task if mechanical gremlins had not hampered her weekend straight from practice.
Burgess' practice session on Friday was in fact cut short by fueling system issues, which then carried onto Saturday in qualifying, despite the team having gone through the typical technical inspection process. In an altered qualifying format, drivers had a 20-minute timed session with no chances to go back out on track again after attempting their flying lap. Burgess spotted the fuel system issue again on her second lap and aborted the run.
The team would change the fuel pump, but Burgess was at that point forced to build her recovery in the race from the tail-end of the field.
At the green flag, Burgess had a really strong first part of the race and managed to climb the order until slotting in seventh place. Unfortunately, the fuel pressure issues were soon back and the Australian was instructed to slightly lift on the back section of the track to avoid further engine troubles.
At the halfway caution, the BMI Racing crew took the opportunity to refuel the #88 HMH Construction Chevrolet; despite the issues, Burgess was still able to run solidly and, from seventh, she actually made impressive progress once the green flag waved again.
With some clean passes, Bridget Burgess moved up to fourth place – which would have represented a career high for the young talent.
When a second caution neutralized the action with 20 laps to go, Burgess was called in for a second refuelling to prevent low fuel pressure issues – but once she had rejoined the track, the #88 machine was surrounded by a cloud of smoke and had to be pushed back into the pits.
As the team made repairs to the transmission line, Bridget Burgess unfortunately lost seven laps and a highly-likely top five – but she could eventually go back out and complete the race in tenth place.
"It was a shame we had so many issues over the weekend" – Burgess commented. "The HMH Construction Chevrolet was competitive, and to start at the rear of the field and get up to fourth shows that we can compete against the other larger teams."
Jake Drew – who had won his first race at the series' first visit to Portland earlier this year – took another dominant victory, his fourth of the season. From pole, Drew battled with Todd Souza in the opening stages, but eventually the Sunrise Racing driver was unchallenged in the 57 laps of the 1.967 mile road course.
Drew managed the restarts from Souza and Cole Moore, who would ultimately finish fourth behind Tanner Reif – Jake Drew's main title rival.
With her fourth top ten of the season, Bridget Burgess now sits in seventh place in the drivers' standings, with 299 points.
With now three races left on the ARCA West schedule, the series will return on October 1 for the NAPA AutoCare 150 at All American Speedway in Roseville, California.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring and Phoenix Raceway will host the final two rounds of the season.