ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Bill McAnally Racing will have a huge presence this season as the team looks to defend its ARCA Menards Series West championship crown.
The defending titlists, who have won four of the last five ARCA West (formerly NASCAR K&N Pro Series West) crowns overall, will bring a four-car assault for 2020, led by winged sprint car star Gio Scelzi.
Scelzi, 18, will pilot the No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Records Toyota campaigned last year by Wisconsin’s Derek Kraus, who won five times in 14 races en route to his maiden series championship.
The move to pavement on a more-regular basis represents a long-term strategic goal for Scelzi, who hopes to pave the same road to NASCAR that Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson and others did before him.
“(Toyota’s) Andy Graves is kind of the one that led me into this deal on the pavement side, and then one thing led to another and I got involved with (TRD’s) Jack Irving … and those are the two guys that really got me here and got everything to work with Bill,” Scelzi explained. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity that’s in front of us.
“Running Derek’s car … it’s the same crew, the same guys; it’s a championship-winning car,” Scelzi added. “I just have to make it happen. I’m looking forward to it; it’s something new and a direction I’ve wanted to go in for a couple of years now, so I’m finally getting the first step in that direction like what you’ve seen from Christopher and Kyle over the last few years.”
Joining Scelzi as teammates at BMR in 2020 will be two fellow dirt-track young guns – 15-year-old Jesse Love and 18-year-old Holley Hollan – as well as 18-year-old late model driver Gracie Trotter.
Love will pilot the No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota, while Hollan takes the wheel of the No. 50 JBL/NAPA Belts and Hoses Toyota and Trotter will wheel the No. 99 ENEOS Motor Oil Toyota.
All four drivers are members of the Toyota Racing Development program.
Love spent much of his pavement time last season racing late models with the SRL Southwest Tour, while also racing midgets regularly with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports on the dirt side.
However, a chance to step up into a nationally-renowned touring series for 2020 was one that the Menlo Park, Calif., teenager not only couldn’t pass up, it’s a challenge he’s eager to tackle.
“I’m super grateful and can’t thank the good Lord enough for providing me with this opportunity and everybody around me that’s put me in a situation to do this,” said Love. “If it wasn’t for everybody around me, I’d be sitting on my couch at home. This is definitely the biggest stage of stock car racing that I’ve been on in my whole career, which is super eye-opening to me and super, super cool.
“To be able to do this with Toyota Racing Development and Bill McAnally Racing is just a dream come true and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.”
Hollan will transition over to the blacktop on a more regular basis after two years of action with KKM in midget racing. Prior to that stint, she cut her teeth racing micro sprints in Oklahoma for multiple years.
While she’ll compete full time with BMR in the ARCA West ranks, Hollan will also return to KKM for a part-time schedule of midget events this season when her availability allows.
“Running the ARCA West Series with Bill McAnally Racing is something I’m obviously looking forward to, though it’s certainly a new adventure for me,” Hollan said. “But I’m excited to be going up the ladder in the Toyota development program. It seems like I’m stepping into a whole new world. I think everything I learn from the asphalt stuff will help me on dirt. You go much faster (on pavement), so I think it will slow everything down some for me when I come back to run the midgets.
A lot of the stuff I’ve learned from dirt correlates to and helps me in the asphalt experience, as well,” she added. “I’m fortunate to be a part of the Toyota team and have them support me in doing this. They’re not only giving me this opportunity, but also keeping my best interests in mind and letting me come back to run the midget with Keith Kunz Motorsports.”
Trotter jumps up to ARCA West after several years of regional Legends car and late model competition in the Southeast, including selected starts with the CARS Super Late Model Tour and Pro All Stars Series.
She’s earned three top-10 runs in just five CARS appearances over the last three years, and is also a continuing member of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program.
Team owner Bill McAnally, who has worked for many years to develop drivers through his organization on the West Coast, is looking forward to the challenge of having four rookie drivers on his squad for the new year – something he’s never faced in his West Series tenure.
“It’s a lot of new for us going into 2020 and definitely an exciting challenge,” McAnally told SPEED SPORT about his new driver lineup. “When we were working to move Derek (Kraus) up to the Truck Series, we’d hoped to have Hailie (Deegan) back with us as our senior driver, but when she went a different direction we embraced the opportunity to have all four of these very talented, very quick drivers join us for the upcoming season in the ARCA Menards Series West.
“Our goal is to win races and win a championship at season’s end, and even though it’s an all-new driver lineup for us this year, we have a goal to help all of these kids get their first ARCA West wins with us … which would also give us our milestone 100th win as a team, also. It’s shaping up to be an exciting year.”