William Sawalich earns redemption with rain-shortened victory at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Arizona — A late-race spin from the lead at Phoenix Raceway last March prevented William Sawalich from winning in his ARCA Menards Series debut.

The reigning ARCA Menards East Series champion earned redemption in Friday’s General Tire 150 by putting together a typically efficient run from the pole. A thunderstorm descending upon one-mile tri-oval with less than 40 laps remaining forced ARCA officials to call the race early, handing Sawalich the win.

Sawalich felt Phoenix owed him a victory after he came so close to prevailing in his first race with Joe Gibbs Racing one year ago. While he would have preferred to settle the outcome on track, Sawalich was more than grateful to celebrate with his team in Victory Lane regardless of the circumstances.

“Not the way I wanted to win a race, but I knew we had the best car out there,” Sawalich said. “We kind of fell back during that first stint, but the guys made a really good adjustment, so I’m super proud of them doing that. We ran a good race and I knew we had a chance to win it.”

RELATED: Complete results from the General Tire 150

With his triumph on Friday evening, Sawalich is now two for three in ARCA appearances at Phoenix.

Sawalich was untouchable when the ARCA Menards Series West wrapped up its 2023 season around the one-mile oval last November. Leading 93 of 100 possible laps, Sawalich’s victory wrapped up a nearly perfect rookie ARCA campaign that saw him visit Victory Lane seven times across the three divisions.

William Sawalich
In his ARCA Menards Series career, William Sawalich now has two victories and three poles in three starts at Phoenix Raceway. (Photo: Adam Glanzman/ARCA Racing)

Just like the West Series finale last year, Sawalich’s closest competition came in the form of a Venturini Motorsports car. This time it was Gio Ruggiero, who was making his ARCA Menards Series national debut.

Ruggiero managed to chase down Sawalich during the longest green flag run of the evening before trading blows with him on several successive restarts. Sawalich gained the upper hand after the halfway break, with Ruggiero being forced to settle for second when rain brought the General Tire 150 to a premature end.

Facing Sawalich will be a common theme for Ruggiero throughout his rookie ARCA campaign. His busy schedule includes running all eight events in the East Series, where he will look to dethrone Sawalich as the champion.

Following Ruggiero in third was NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran Grant Enfinger, who was making his first West Series appearance as part of Friday’s combination event. Connor Mosack and defending West Series champion Sean Hingorani completed the top-five.

In her ARCA Menareds Series debut, Isabella Robusto finished sixth after climbing to as high as third during the night. Jack Wood, Andres Perez, Toni Breidinger and Lavar Scott rounded out the top-10.

The ARCA Menards Series gets a month-long break before returning to action at Talladega Superspeedway for the General Tire 200 on April 20, which will be televised live on FS1 at 12:30 p.m. ET.

The ARCA Menards Series returns to action with the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts at California’s Irwindale Speedway on March 30. That event will be available live excessively on FloRacing.