Joe Gibbs Racing will continue to field an entry in the ARCA Menards Series after announcing Friday morning the signing of 16-year-old William Sawalich to a multi-year agreement.
Sawalich, from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is set to compete in 20 races on the ARCA platform beginning with the ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series West combination race at Phoenix Raceway on March 10.
As part of his 20-race ARCA schedule for 2023, Sawalich will contest the full ARCA Menards Series East schedule aboard the No. 18 Starkey Toyota Camry.
“I think it’s awesome to have such a long period of time at Joe Gibbs Racing, just to learn all about it and make it a second home,” Sawalich said. “It’s just a great opportunity for me. I’m really excited to get this going next year.”
Sawalich made a name for himself racing super late models, pro late models and late model stock cars around the country during the 2022 season.
His busy schedule saw him score 15 victories with a variety of series at numerous tracks, including venues like North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway, Virginia’s South Boston Speedway, Indiana’s Winchester Speedway, Ohio’s Toledo Speedway and Florida’s Five Flags Speedway.
He’s hopeful that experience will pay dividends when he begins his ARCA Menards Series career at Phoenix.
“I think all my short track experience will help me,” Sawalich said. “From super late models, pro late models and late model stocks. With late model stocks, since those are so heavy, I think that’ll translate to an ARCA car better than maybe a super or pro late model.
“I’m confident in my ability, and I’m confident in Joe Gibbs Racing that we can definitely go win a lot of races.”
Sawalich joins a Joe Gibbs Racing ARCA program that has been incredibly successful the last few years.
With Ty Gibbs at the helm starting in 2019, the team earned 18 ARCA Menards Series victories and the 2021 series championship.
Sammy Smith has also enjoyed success driving for the team; he captured the 2021 ARCA Menards Series East championship and added a second East Series championship in 2022 while driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
In 2022, Joe Gibbs Racing fielded an ARCA Menards Series entry on a limited basis for Brandon Jones, who scored three victories in five starts. Riley Herbst also has two ARCA victories while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Sawalich is hoping to add his name to the list of ARCA winners in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, something he believes he is more than capable of doing.
“Winning and learning is the goal,” Sawalich said. “Both are very essential. Winning is always nice, but even if you lose, I think just taking away experience from that race is very essential. I think we can definitely take a crack at the East championship.”