A trip to Victory Lane.
Gutiérrez stole the victory in a photo finish at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in the season-opener in February and has since enjoyed a solid season driving the No. 30 TOUGHBUILT Ford Fusion.
However, with the eighth and last race of the season on deck, Gutiérrez is hopeful to put an exclamation point on his freshman season with his second career ARCA Menards Series East victory.
“It’s hard to believe that the 2021 ARCA Menards Series East season will be over with on Thursday night,” said Gutiérrez. “I have had a blast this year learning new tracks, racing at the front of the field and winning, but we still have one more job to do on Thursday night.”
Luckily for Gutiérrez, 18, he isn’t approaching the season finale completely blinded, especially at a race track as demanding at Bristol.
Last fall, Gutiérrez was able to experience the madness of “Thunder Valley” with his first career ARCA Menards Series East start at the historic half-mile colosseum.
“I’m very thankful that I have nearly 200 laps under my belt at Bristol,” added Gutiérrez. “We don’t have to spend practice getting myself up to speed and instead we can just focus on dialing in our race car and putting some fast laps together that will help for qualifying and the race.
“I know that track position is crucial, so hopefully we can whip off a fast lap in qualifying and then keep making gains during the race.”
Gutiérrez is also hopeful for a strong showing that will help him in the East point standings.
Entering Bristol, he sits fifth in the championship standings, just seven points out of third and a mere 16 markers from the runner-up spot.
With the Bush’s Beans 200 considered a combination event with the premier ARCA Menards Series, Gutiérrez realizes the competition will be tough, but he is prepared for the battle that awaits.
“Every spot is going to be critical,” he said. “I have a feeling that Thursday night is going to be a lot like Dover earlier this year, but it paid off for us because we ended up with a top-five. I expect a lot more cars than we had at Dover though.
“We can’t worry about this or that, we just have to stay focused and hope at the end of the night, we have a lot of reasons to celebrate.”