It was an evening of on-track excitement, thrills, and celebration during Opening Night at Kevin Harvick’s Kern Raceway on March 16, which saw the grand debut of not one but two new racing series: the zMAX CARS Tour West fueled by El Bandido Yankee Tequila and MMI Legends Tour West presented by Frank’s Radio Service.


The energy was palpable as soon as fans started filling the front-stretch during the on-track competitor autograph session, where drivers lined up with their cars to pose for photos, sign memorabilia, and answer questions.

This also provided an up-close look at the freshly painted red, white, and blue color scheme that adorns the newly configured inner quarter-mile track and wraps around the venue’s flagship half-mile oval.

As fans returned to their seats and opening ceremonies kicked off, Kern Raceway’s Tim Huddleston was joined by the event’s Grand Marshal, four-time NASCAR Truck Series Champion, Ron Hornaday Jr.

Before the engines fired, Kevin Harvick made a special—albeit mobile—appearance on a video call with Huddleston and Hornaday to give an opening ceremony shout out to the fans in attendance.

While Harvick was slated to Grand Marshal the event for its original March 2 date, inclement weather would push the grand opening out two weeks.

With Harvick in the Fox broadcast booth covering the race in Bristol, fan favorite Hornaday was selected to fill in as Grand Marshal for the evening.


The Enduro Stock (single-overhead cam) and Sport (dual overhead cam) divisions kicked off the night’s lineup of main features, racing together for an exciting 25-lap debut of the inner quarter-mile track.

When the green dropped, Sport division pole sitter John Beard in the #35 machine was quickly overtaken in the first lap by Rodney Argo in the #9 on the inside of turn three and hold onto the lead.

With next to no banking on a majority of the racing surface and tight corners, the name of the game was brake management as race leaders worked through the inside lines to advance.

With 19 laps to go, race leader Argo’s biggest competition would be the #19 of Jason Woolcott on his rear bumper for multiple laps.

The battle for third was the one to watch, however, as Robert Rice in the #7 machine and Rider Gardner in the #76 traded positions for multiple laps.

In the end, Gardner would be victorious in a last lap nose-to-nose battle to the finish line, and earn the win for the Stock (single-overhead cam) division.

Race leader Argo would keep the lead and take his second Enduro Sport win of the season—following his victory at Irwindale Speedway the week prior.

Following the first feature, fans were treated to some exhibition style spectator drag racing—including an exciting final race that almost escalated into a destruction derby.


Next, it was time for the debut of the MMI Legends Tour West presented by Frank’s Radio Service for an exciting—and caution-filled—35-lap feature that would prove to be part endurance test.

When the green flag dropped, pole-sitter Ethan Nascimento in the #21 would hold onto the lead for multiple laps.

With 25 to go, a violent rear wheel lockup between the #36 of Travis McCullough and the #17W of Johnny White would cause a multiple car jam in turn four that would ultimately collect the #71 of Josh Ayers, the #05 of CJ Dizney and the #43 of Stephen Bazen.

With 22 to go, the #24 of Brenden Ruzbarsky was on the bumper of Nascimento and would make a quick pass for the lead in the following lap, with the #9 machine of Tyler Reif growing in his rear view mirror.

With 6 to go following another caution, a nasty wreck between the seventh-place #75 of Mike Doss and the eight-place #36 of Travis McCullough would draw another yellow flag.

Following this caution, a late race upset saw Ruzbarsky need to pull off track to remove a damaged hood during pace laps, which sent him to the back of the field and closed his chances of taking the win.

In the end, Nascimento would take the lead from Reif with an aggressive last lap pass for the win.

Following the MMI Legends Tour West presented by Frank’s Radio Service inaugural run, the Crown Vic Racers took to the quarter-mile for a fun and exciting 20-lap feature.

Once again, the main battle to watch would develop between the #7 of Robert Rice and the #76 of Rider Gardner for the lead.

In the end, it would be Rice who would pull forward to take the lead and the checkers.


The thunderous sound of the zMAX CARS Tour West fueled by El Bandido Yankee Tequila began to fill the air as the pro late models rolled onto the half-mile for the 100-lap main feature.

When the green flag dropped, it would be pole-sitter Dylan Zampa who would keep his #92 machine out front for multiple laps at the start of the race.

Derek Thorn in the El Bandido Yankee Tequila #8 worked his way from fifth on the first lap to second place with 78 to go, while the #51W of Linny White ran door-to-door to move past the #13 of Sean Hingorani two laps later for the third position.

One battle to watch was the #50 of Trevor Huddleston and the #54 of Joey Iest who traded positions for numerous laps for the 11th position.

With 69 to go, White’s aggressive wheel work on the inside line would pay off and land him the second-place spot after passing Thorn. At 62 to go, White would advance further and take the lead of the race and hold onto the position for multiple laps.

At lap 43, a caution was called when the #17 of Chris Dalton had a tire go down and spun out in turn four. When the green flag dropped again, it would be White, Thorn, and Zampa battling it out for the first-position spot.

With 53 laps to go, the #87 of Seth Wise would be spun around after the #50P of Justin Philpot made aggressive contact with his left rear quarter panel entering turn one.

Thorn would take the lead on the restart with 52 to go before the lap 50 competition break.

At the restart, it was White with Thorn on the outside who would battle for the lead door-to-door for several laps.

With 45 to go, an exciting battle for second emerged between Zampa and Thorn.

Late race drama unfolded between the #43 of Christen Bazen and #87 of Seth Wise who were battling it out for 12th before Wise would hit and spin out Bazen with 22 to go.

Another caution would follow after the next restart when the #27 of Chase Hand would go around and collect the #55 of Andrew Chapman.

With a restart at 21 to go, a battle for fourth would brew in the following laps between Thorn, Huddleston and Hingorani and the #15 of Landen Lewis until Huddleston squeezed out to take the lead.

Then, Jeffrey Petterson on the inside of turn two would make it three wide with Lewis and Thorn for four laps until the #51P machine would pull away.

With 5 to go, Philpot made aggressive contact into Thorn on the backstretch causing a late race wreck which also collected the #15 machine and the #88 of Holly Clark.

At the final restart, Zampa would put the bumper to White in a controversial move to gain the lead with three to go.

At lap 98, White and Huddleston would make contact, splitting the field and shaking up the leader board.

In the end it would be Zampa who would take the win for the inaugural zMAX CARS Tour West main event.

Emotions spilled onto the front stretch after the race with White parking his 51w machine next to Zampa’s in victory lane to confront the race winner.

The event closed out with a destruction demonstration from the Mayhem Machine and a fireworks finale.

The next appearance for the zMAX CARS Tour West fueled by El Bandido Yankee Tequila and the MMI Legends Tour West presented by Frank’s Radio Service will be at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, CA on Saturday, April 13th.


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