Trotter's Las Vegas win makes ARCA racing history

Miranda Alam/ARCA Racing via NASCAR

Trotter's Las Vegas win makes ARCA racing history

NASCAR

Trotter's Las Vegas win makes ARCA racing history

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Gracie Trotter finally got to sleep in on Monday.

It was well deserved rest for the 19-year-old. Trotter had a long travel day Sunday returning to North Carolina from out west. She encountered delayed flights, canceled flights, and fought overall exhaustion from the trip and running non-stop since a historic Saturday afternoon.

Trotter’s No. 99 ENEOS Toyota led 95 of 150 laps in a dominating performance at the Las Vegas Bulling that ended with her first career win in the ARCA Menards Series West in just her eighth start. Even better, Trotter became the first female to win an ARCA-sanctioned event.

“It hasn’t hit me yet. I’ve been telling people it’s pretty surreal,” Trotter told RACER Monday afternoon. “Even just being a part of the team, moving up to ARCA this year, being with Bill McAnally Racing – it’s been pretty crazy.

“I’ve exceeded all my expectations. Winning – when I was leading the race, I was like, ‘We’re going to win this thing; it’s going to be big’. But I didn’t know how big it was going to be. I hope it encourages other females to consider the sport and know they can do it, too.”

Trotter took the lead with a three-wide pass on lap 54. There was no hesitation on her part to make such a move, which developed when Jesse Love and Blaine Perkins opened the door by going wide off the corner.

“Three-wide at the Bullring is a little sketchy, but I’ll make it stick and let them figure out what they need to figure out, and I’ll hold onto it,” said Trotter of her move. “It ended up working out for me.”

A rash of cautions set up multiple restarts, but Trotter consistently drove away on each one.

“First, I told myself, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m leading! We can go do this,’” she said. “But there were so many cautions, and I thought this couldn’t be a worse time to have so many cautions here. I kept saying, ‘Oh my goodness, oh my goodness,’ over the radio, but my spotter really helped me execute those restarts very well.

“This year, my restarts have really been a struggle. I’ve told myself after each race I have to work on them. These bigger cars with higher horsepower are something new for me on restarts, and I still haven’t figured that out yet; but I’ve been talking to people to figure out how to make those restarts good. It worked for me this weekend; I tried some different things, gains here and there, but tried to make it pretty simple and listen to (my spotter) on the radio, and he helped me a lot.”

Trotter’s win came as no surprise to those who have been following her progress numbers. Despite the learning curve of working with a new team in Bill McAnally Racing, driving new cars, and competing on new tracks, Trotter has not finished worse than seventh. She has been on the lead lap and running at the end of each race.

Still, Trotter has not had near the amount of practice time she thought she would this year. Because of the pandemic, officials have cut practice time down to 30 minutes to one hour. Whatever a driver’s fastest lap is in practice also serves as his or her qualifying speed. Trotter admits it has been a struggle.

“Luckily, I’ve been racing late model stocks for a while, and those are similar,” said Trotter. “They both have truck arms, so it’s kind of a similar deal, but the ARCA cars are a lot heavier and more horsepower, so there is that difference there. Learning these cars and especially communicating with my new team – people I haven’t worked with before – and going to all these tracks that I’ve never seen… Luckily, some of these tracks are on iRacing, and I can get laps there, which has helped me a lot.

“I didn’t expect to do as well as I have because I came into the year knowing it’s a whole new world – different race car, (new) tracks. I said I’m going to take this opportunity to take this all in and learn as much as I can and do the best I can with what I have. But after the finishes we started to have early in the year, I was like, ‘OK, we’re definitely going to win one this year.’ So, it finally happened.”

Add in that Trotter is doing all this far from home. A North Carolina native, she feels as if she lives in the airport, regularly commuting to the west coast though McAnally has a bunkhouse, and Trotter and teammate Holley Holland will stay there together when in California for long periods.

Thankfully, Trotter can share her experiences with her family. While she travels for shop visits and (sponsor) business independently, her dad and stepmother attend every race. Trotter’s mom has also made trips out west, getting to see her race.

Trotter is a third-generation racer, and so racing is familiar to all.

With three races to go in the ARCA season, Trotter is third in the point standings. She is 15 points behind Perkins for second and 31 points behind teammate Love for the points lead. Having finally broken through for her first win, Trotter has her eye on more before the year ends.

“I want to close out the year with some more wins,” she said. “I think we can go out and win (the last three). Third in points right now, so I’m hoping to execute on that and gain some more points. Jesse just needs some really bad races for me to get that points lead, but I’m hoping that BMR can get a 1-2-3 finish in the points championship.”

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