Fittingly, the drivers who have spent the most time in ARCA Menards Series East Victory Lanes this season, William Sawalich and Luke Fenhaus, will battle for the championship.
Thursday’s East Series season-finale at Bristol Motor Speedway is a combination race with the ARCA Menards Series (national), meaning the Bristol 200 will feature a stacked field. The car count of 32 entries is good news for Fenhaus, who’s 20 points behind Sawalich in the East Series title chase after seven of eight races.
Still, Sawalich has the inside track to the championship. Simply put: If he finishes 14th or better Thursday at Bristol, the 16-year-old from Eden Prairie, Minnesota will clinch Joe Gibbs Racing’s third consecutive East Series driver title regardless of what Fenhaus does.
A 15th-place finish for Sawalich at Bristol would open the door for Fenhaus to win the title via tiebreaker. In that scenario, if Fenhaus were to win the race and gain all possible bonus points for a General Tire Pole Award, leading a lap and leading the most laps, he would equal Sawalich’s season-long total of wins (three) and top fives (seven) but would pull ahead in top 10s (eight to seven).
Of course, that would be asking a lot of Fenhaus against a strong field of ARCA Menards Series regulars. The Pinnacle Racing Group driver will be hoping Sawalich finishes lower in the running order to maximize his opportunities to steal the championship.
Sawalich has the most wins in the East Series this season with three; he’s also led by far the most laps (748). But Fenhaus’ consistency — paired with his victories at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and Iowa Speedway this season — means he’s a worthy challenger for the title.
With Fenhaus’ 20-point deficit, there are multiple ways he could take the title depending on where Sawalich finishes.
Below are all of the points scenarios for both drivers at Bristol based on a 32-car field.
William Sawalich vs. Luke Fenhaus: Bristol points scenarios for ARCA Menards Series East championship
ARCA Menards Series points tiebreaker procedure
In the event two or more drivers have the same number of points, the tiebreaker in points shall be determined based on current season events in the respective series in the following order:
- Events entered and competed in
- Most victories
- Most top five-five finishes
- Most top-10 finishes
- Most poles
- Average finishing position