CATCHING UP WITH ARCA WEST WINNER LANDEN LEWIS
Mooresville, NC (April, 29th, 2022) – North Carolina’s, Landen Lewis headed west last week to race in the ARCA Menard’s Series West event at, Kern County Raceway Park. In a whirlwind of a weekend, Lewis found himself back on top of the Podium. A 2021 winner in the ARCA RACING SERIES on a dirt oval, Lewis showed his asphalt talents are just as sharp. Working a deal with Cook Racing Technologies, Lewis was set and his
team of support went into the weekend with a learning experience concept in mind. Well that quickly changed once Lewis hit the California banked half mile.
We asked Landen what his initial thoughts were upon his arrival at the Bakersfield, Ca motorsports park. “To be honest I was extremely surprised,” he said. “The facility was top notch, it’s a beautiful facility. The track was a lot more banked than what I expected. I watched a lot of footage and the banking was very deceiving. We did a track walk and once we were done, I was excited to get on track.” The team unloaded, with Lewis in the ready. Most of his recent racing is in the U.S. Legend Cars International and INEX Series running on the Dirt, Asphalt and Road Courses. We asked how it was for him in the first laps in the heavy full sized stock car. “It took me a couple laps to get the brakes and size of the car down but after that we were good.” He continued, “Man to be honest the car was fast right off the truck. Bruce and the guys brought a fast hot rod. In qualifying I felt I left a lot on the table, I wish I had one more lap. I was not expecting the amount of grip the car had. It was a rocket ship!”
A new car, but a new team as well. So we asked Landen how things went in aligning his team, the car, and communications with his crew. “On Friday Bruce told us to go 70-80% so that’s what we did. Bruce was probably one of the best crew chiefs I have worked with on the big car side. He, and l, along with Joe Ryan and Joey Coulter, would talk about the car and every change Bruce did, the car got faster. Landen continued, “It was pretty cool to work with one of Ron Hornaday’s old Crew Chiefs, everything Ron told me to expect with him was spot on. The communication was awesome and I learned a ton.” After starting 3rd in the Salute to the Oil & Gas Industry, NAPA Auto Parts 150, Landen was keeping a conservative stance on the track. “Well, I wanted to get out there and set a pace and save my equipment but after the first stop, Bruce told me no more saving the equipment, get out to the lead and to run hard and that’s what we did.” We asked Hornaday “Going there I wanted a top 5, but after the first practice I knew we had a good shot of winning,” Ron said. “The kid is a Sponge and soaked up everything all weekend.”
As many learned in the movie, Days of Thunder, that voice in your helmet could mean all the difference in the world. Landen was blessed to have a voice he not only knows, but trusts. “Joe Ryan Osborne was on my radio spotting and to be honest, it was great.” Landen said. “Joe always does a great job and knows how to push me or calm me down. It was pretty cool that, Joey Coulter was there and they did a lot of talking on channel 2 on my line. They were able to communicate that with me, to make sure I was getting as much as possible out of the car.” So, we wanted to know, with the support, the fans, the family, what was going through the mind of this driver on that last victories lap. “Coming to the white flag there was a car slowing up coming off of 4 and I was like no way. And I pushed the pedal to the floor to try and get to the white flag as soon as possible so they wouldn’t throw a yellow. Joe kept me calm and told me to hit my marks. As I took the white flag and coming out of 4, I had some tears. I was so dang happy but in a little disbelief that I had won.”
We had to ask how emotional those final laps were for his Manager, Candice Hornaday. “I was a nervous wreck. But I’m always nervous with our drivers out there,” she said. “I knew Landen had it under control but you just never know. Heck I think I darn near wore a hole in my shoes pacing back and forth.” Something many of us witnessed her Mother, Lindy do while her 4 Time Truck Series Champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. was on track. She continued, “Once I heard Bruce say give it all you got…I was pretty certain he had it. Landen’s one of those drivers when you let the slack loose he will get the job done.”
Victory Lane was a Fanfare for sure. “Victory lane was awesome,” said Landen. “I have always wanted to soak everyone with water and while I was sitting there waiting for TV I saw my big water bottle and thought yes…I get to soak them! Man it was such an awesome feeling and to have so many people there, my sponsors, family and some of Ron’s old sponsors and friends, it was pretty cool. Then of course when Ron made it down there and gave me that big kiss on the cheek, that was priceless and I will never forget it.” Speaking of memories, we had to ask Candice if this sparked some of hers. “Absolutely! And it was even more special with Bruce as the Crew Chief and to see how excited my Dad was.”
Even with amazing Media coverage, many don’t get to truly see what it takes for this to unfold for a young driver like Landen. “To be honest it was pretty easy,” Candice said. “I went down asked Bruce what races he had open and we picked which ones we wanted to do and that was it. When working with Bruce it’s pretty easy because I trust him and knew he would bring a fast piece and would take care of Landen. Not all deals come together this easy but this deal in particular was pretty easy. I mean I had complete confidence going into the weekend with Landen as the driver and Bruce on top of the box. Landen did everything he needed to, he was focused, had great feedback and never lost track of the end goal. I am super proud of the whole team and everyone involved. Like Billy and Tanner from 19th Green Garden Center said…the whole team worked like a well oiled machine.”
We know this takes a marketing package as well as a team, car & driver. We asked Landen about his partners. “ North Carolina companies are, Billy and Tanner Prince with 19th Green, Blankenship Roofing Inc , Quality Auto Body & Collision, A Touch of Glass, Inc., LouLou's Waterfront Restaurant and L&A South Tire and Auto. The California companies are, RentSource Corporation, MMI Services, Inc., Reeves Complete Auto Center Inc., and TSC - Trinity Safety Company.
We caught up with the guys from, The 19th Green while at the airport, a pleasure to speak with these two gentleman. I told them the support they offer is amazing they seem to truly believe in this driver and Landen as a person. “Landen is a hometown young man that we took interest in,” said Billy Prince. “Tanner had been observing Landen’s career on social media for a long time and once the time came that we thought was right we called up, Jonathan Landen’s father to help out and support Landen. Going into this event we were confident in a top 5 finish. We are very observant people and watching the way Bruce Cook, his team and Team Hornaday Development, communicated things and the way they all worked, we knew we had a great chance to finish in the top 5. To come home with the win was awesome and we are proud to be apart of Landen.”
His brother Tanner added, “We know the capabilities of Landen and his racing abilities and how he handles new challenges, so we are always confident in his abilities,” he said. “Coming into this weekend and knowing Bruce Cooks stats and following his career, we knew he would bring a good car for Landen. Our hopes were a clean good race with a top 5 finish. After the first practice, listening on the radio and watching Landen on the track, I knew we had a shot at winning. We are all very proud of Landen and his hard work and determination. This is just the beginning of a lot of work ahead.”
“I have to thank, Candice Hornaday and the entire Team with Team Hornaday Development, Ron and Lindy Hornaday for everything they do for me, Landen said. “My Dad, Mom and my entire Family. Joe Ryan, Billy Workman, Joey Coulter with DriveRefine, Frank with Franks Radio Service, he had to do an emergency radio fix for me when we got out there. He was awesome! And of course Bruce Cook and the entire Cook Racing Technologies team. These guys are so awesome to work with and they brought me a rocket ship.” Hornaday, Jr., added, “I would just like to thank everyone that is involved with Landen. He has a lot of amazing people behind him. And thank you to Bruce, Steve and the entire team for all their hard work.”
Pic Credit: Ron Hornaday Fans