William Sawalich wins at Mid-Ohio after Connor Mosack penalized for restart violation

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Connor Mosack crossed the finish line first in Friday’s Zinsser SmartCoat 150 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

He did not win the race.

After ARCA Menards Series officials deemed he jumped the final restart of the evening while trying to pass leader Brent Crews, Mosack completed the last lap under penalty. With Mosack not officially in contention, William Sawalich took advantage of the chaotic turn of events to earn his fourth victory on the ARCA Menards Series platform in 2024.

RELATED: Complete results from the Zinsser SmartCoat 150

Sawalich was focused on fending off Gio Ruggiero for what he thought would be for second place. The defending ARCA Menards East Series champion was pleasantly surprised once he received word that he was the winner, not Mosack.

“They were telling me while I was battling [Ruggiero] that [Mosack] got the black flag,” Sawalich said. “I knew it was just going to be me and [Ruggiero], but I wished we could have raced it out.”

Being gifted a victory due to a penalty was the not way Sawalich or Joe Gibbs Racing envisioned finally getting the upper hand on Pinnacle Racing Group after several eventful races.

The rivalry that stemmed from Luke Fenhaus and PRG stealing two victories from Sawalich on overtime restarts in 2023 continued into the current year when contact between Sawalich and Connor Zilisch at Dover Motor Speedway knocked the former out of the race. Zilisch secured his first ARCA Menards Series win that day.

Sawalich and Zilisch came together once again during the preceding Atlas 150 at Iowa Speedway. Following an intense battle for the win that stemmed from Sawalich being unhappy over how he was raced on restarts, Zilisch and PRG ended up prevailing for their third win together, much to Sawalich’s chagrin.

Just like many previous encounters, JRG and PRG found each other on the track once again at the Mid-Ohio Sports Course, this time with Mosack in the No. 28 Chevrolet.

Contact in turn six with Mosack shortly after the halfway break cost Sawalich valuable track position. As Mosack pulled away to chase down Crews for the lead, Sawalich did everything possible to climb back up to the leaders, who had pulled away by 15 seconds prior to Lavar Scott bringing out the final caution.

Ironically, Mosack would be the one to help Sawalich in multiple ways outside of the jumped restart.

A dive by Mosack into turn two sent Crews out of the groove, damaging Mosack’s car and handing the lead to Thomas Annunziata. The advantage would only last momentarily for Annunziata, who was moved by Mosack into the grass as the duo reached turn four.

Mosack’s furious efforts to claim the lead all proved to be in vain with ARCA Menards Series officials determining he had edged race leader Crews to the finish line on the restart, a violation in the rulebook. Instead of celebrating his third career victory, Mosack had to settle for a 13th-place finish as the last car on the lead lap.

An exhausted Sawalich considered himself fortunate to see his hard work rewarded, even if he was not the first to cross the start-finish line. While he would have preferred a cleaner day and victory celebration, Sawalich said the winning mentality of everyone at JGR is why they are able to overcome adversity when it occurs.

“This team never gives up and it always shows,” Sawalich said. “I really wished I could have battled it out with [Ruggiero] there. I missed a shift on the backstretch which is why it looked like I brake-checked him. Then I hit the wall during the burnout. I’ve never done that before, so that’s a first.”

A dominant afternoon for Crews saw him place second following the contact with Mosack. Ruggiero faded to third during the final sprint to the finish, with Annunziata and Marco Andretti rounding out the top five.

ARCA Menards Series points leader Andres Perez finished sixth. The rest of the top 10 included Toni Breidinger, Conor Daly, Brad Perez and Greg Van Alst.

The ARCA Menards Series immediately returns to action next Saturday evening with a trip to the historic short track Berlin Raceway. Live coverage of the Berlin ARCA 200 begins at 8 p.m. ET on FloRacing, with Fox Sports 1 carrying a delayed broadcast at 9:30 p.m. ET.