Bakersfield, CA – Oswego, OR driver Kole Raz entered the 2021 Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series season fresh off two consecutive NASCAR Advanced Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series State of Arizona Championships, as well as the 2020 Tucson Speedway. Track Championship. He had racked up eight wins in 21 starts, in the NASCAR Regional window, over those last two seasons. The Sigma Performance Services and TMI – Tucson Motorsports Inc. team was perched to storm the series competition and compete for the Rookie-of-the-Year and championship titles. Despite showing great speed, Raz experienced bad luck and misfortune in multiple events, but still managed a strong fifth-place finish in the season standings and a second-place finish in the rookie battle.
The 2021 Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist started off the season strong, qualifying third and finishing sixth in the 44-car “Sunrise Ford All-Star Showdown” at Irwindale Speedway. Round #2 at the Kern County Raceway Park’s Winter Showdown found the team struggling for speed, finishing 17th. A quick rebound however, found Raz with a season best third at Irwindale. Another mediocre run of 10th at The New Stockton 99 Speedway led to one of his most dramatic runs of the season. After being involved in an early race incident, Raz charged from the back to earn a fifth-place finish at ALL AMERICAN SPEEDWAY – ROSEVILLE CA, in a Super Late Model that looked more like a Modified.
The second half of the season also started off well with a fourth place run at KCRP. A tenth at Irwindale preceded a tough run at Stockton, where he was the victim of an accident, finishing 13th. Raz struggled with race speed in Round #9 at Roseville, then finished off the season with his second DNF, and a 17th-place finish at KCRP’s October Classic.
Despite up and down race results, Raz was fast in qualifying in every event except for the Winter Showdown at KCRP. He qualified no worse than sixth in any other event, just missing the PFC Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award twice, qualifying second at Irwindale and Kern. His overall average was an impressive 5.7. His race results slotted in with a 9.4 average, where he scored three top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
In his first season in a travelling series, Raz showed he had the talent and team to run up front. It was a frustrating season at times for the rookie, but it was a good experience overall.
“I really enjoyed the experience I was able to gain this year in the “Tour”, going to new race tracks up and down California”, Raz stated. “I truly feel our results this year didn’t show the speed we had week in and week out. We were never really able to shake the bad luck this season. But we continued to attack each weekend like it was our last and continued to bring fast race cars.”
Raz was thankful for the opportunity he had in 2021, and for those who made it possible, as Raz explained.
“I am very thankful to have had the chance to work with Jim Parker Sr. We really had a strong relationship, and it made the year really enjoyable. He always worked hard to try and keep my head high, through the hard times of the season. I’d like to say a big thank you to my family, Ken Ash, Patrick Hillyer, Marc Lalama, Michael Mulder, Brandon Farrington, Dustin Ash Motorsports, Garrett Wallace, Bill Farrington, Josh Hitchiner, Troy Smith, Chris Pulliam, Preston Peltier, Sam Ash, Wells Johnson and Brad and Joann Corneliusen for their continued support over the years.”
The next event for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will be the “Sunrise Ford All-Star Showdown” at Irwindale Speedway, where 44 Super Late Models appeared in 2021. Raz would love to repeat his qualifying effort from 2021 and improve upon his sixth-place finish.