William Sawalich dominates at the Milwaukee Mile, bolsters ARCA East points lead

WEST ALLIS, WISCONSIN — Any doubts about William Sawalich’s control over the ARCA Menards Series East standings were mostly quelled in Sunday’s Sprecher 150 at the Milwaukee Mile.

A dominant performance from Sawalich saw him claim his third ARCA Menards Series East victory of 2023 and his fourth overall on the ARCA platform. With Sawalich’s closest competition in Luke Fenhaus finishing sixth, he now has a comfortable points advantage heading into the final race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

RELATED: Complete Sprecher 150 race results

Setting a track record on Saturday afternoon gave Sawalich plenty of confidence about his chances in the Sprecher 150. He easily carried over that speed by delivering one of his best drives with Joe Gibbs Racing to date.

“[Everything] comes easy when [Joe Gibbs Racing] gives me such a great race car,” Sawalich said. “This Soundgear Toyota Camry was on rails today and I can’t thank [my team] enough.”

The victory for Sawalich continued a perfect record for Joe Gibbs Racing at the Milwaukee Mile since the ARCA Menards Series returned to the historic facility back in 2021.

During those two races, Ty Gibbs and Sammy Smith led a combined 272 out of a possible 300 laps. Gibbs’ victory saw him lead wire-to-wire, while Smith had to fend off a mid-race challenge from Taylor Gray last year to keep Gibbs’ perfect Milwaukee Mile record intact.

Consistent pressure from ARCA Menards Series points leader Jesse Love on restarts prevented Sawalich from leading every lap on Sunday afternoon. Despite this, Sawalich was efficient in both dirty and clean air, as he took back the top spot each time Love managed to pull ahead.

Love attempted to dump dirty air on Sawalich’s car during the last restart, but one final nudge from Sawalich in Turn 3 was enough to move him out of the groove and the lead. The next set of turns saw Love try to return the favor, but he ended up losing too much ground to make another successful charge.

While Love was disappointed to not claim his ninth victory of 2023, he was happy to record his first Top 5 finish at the Milwaukee Mile and commended Sawalich for not being overly aggressive in their battle for the win.

“We just lacked a little of that roll speed [Sawalich] had a lot of,” Love said. “He ran me hard, but also clean too. I’m fine with everything that transpired, but I wish I had a little more for him. This is a place we’ve struggled at the past few years, so my goal this year was to not suck. Now we go back to work.”

Even on days where he has the best car, Sawalich understands the benchmark set by Love and Venturini Motorsports every time they are in the same field as him.

Earning a victory on Sunday would involve Sawalich maintaining composure on restarts with Love usually gaining the lead on a deep entry into Turn 1. Sawalich let Love come back to him when he lost the lead but was only patient to a fault.

“I was just trying to get [Love] out of my way,” Sawalich said. “I knew I was faster, so it was only a matter of time before I got there and passed him. Just had to be smart about it.”

The ARCA Menards Series East title is not yet official for Sawalich, but a 20-point lead over Fenhaus gives him some breathing room. He looks to chase one more victory at Bristol next month before delivering the No. 18 team their third straight championship.

Sean Hingorani came home third in his first race at the Milwaukee Mile, where he was followed by Venturini Motorsports teammate Conner Jones and 2015 ARCA Menards Series champion Grant Enfinger.

Fenhaus, Andres Perez de Lara, Lavar Scott, Jake Finch and Gus Dean rounded out the Top 10 in Sunday’s Sprecher 150.

The ARCA Menards Series will be back in action on Labor Day weekend when drivers head to the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds for the Southern Illinois 100 on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

For the ARCA Menards Series East, their season finale takes place at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 14 for the Bush’s Beans 200.

FS2 and FloRacing will broadcast the Southern Illinois 100, with the Bush’s Beans 200 being carried on FS1.