Rising star Sawalich wins Bush's Beans 200, takes ARCA Menards Series East crown
It was just one race but it was twice as nice for William Sawalich in the Bush’s Beans 200 ARCA Menards Series race on Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Not only did the 16-year-old from Eden Prairie, Minn., take the checkered flag after a late-race pass on series leader Jesse Love, but the event also served as the final race of the ARCA Menards Series East season, with Sawalich clinching the ARCA East season title before the race’s halfway point.
“That’s really awesome,” said Sawalich after celebrating with a burnout on the frontstretch of The Last Great Colosseum. “We worked all year to get to this point. This Joe Gibbs Racing team has been awesome. We’ve been fast everywhere we went.”
Sawalich, driving the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, led just 10 laps overall but that total included the final eight of the race after he nudged past Love on the backstretch of Lap 192 following the race’s final restart.
“I didn’t know if I could get [by Love] but that last caution helped us,” Sawalich said.
“It obviously sucks to lead that much and come up short,” said Love who led more than 160 laps in the No. 20 Toyota for Venturini Motorsports. “I think the pass was fine. It was going for the win at Bristol. The track rubbered up a lot and lost a lot of rear grip.
“I’m glad Toyota won the ARCA East championship. We’ll keep on driving the lights out.”
Love held on for second, with Andres Perez placing third, Jake Finch finishing fourth and Greg Van Alst taking fifth. Eleven drivers finished on the lead lap.
With the right breaks, Luke Fenhaus had his own chance to claim the ARCA Menards Series East title, but early incidents ended his race after completing just 30 laps.
“I had two right fronts go down,” Fenhaus said. “[My team] works so hard. We’ll be back and be better next year.”
Sawalich earned the pole position for the race earlier on Thursday with a lap of 127.19 mph (15.086 seconds).
Bush's Beans 200
ARCA Menards Series
Bristol Motor Speedway
1. William Sawalich
2. Jesse Love
3. Andres Perez
4. Jake Finch
5. Greg Van Alst
6. Conner Jones
7. Landon Pembelton
8. Christian Rose
9. Jack Wood
10. Andy Jankowiak
11. Tanner Arms
12. Toni Breidinger
13. Zachary Tinkle
14. Caleb Costner
15. Sean Hingorani
16. D.L. Wilson
17. Lavar Scott
18. Ryan Roulette
19. Charles Buchanan
20. Landen Lewis
21. Kaden Honeycutt
22. Alex Clubb
23. Frankie Muniz
24. Dale Shearer
25. Tim Monroe
26. Jon Garrett
27. A.J. Moyer
28. Rita Goulet
29. Luke Fanhaus
30. Brad Smith
31. Matt Gould
32. Mike Basham
The remaining NASCAR Playoff Weekend schedule includes:
- Friday, Sept. 15: Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race (7:30 p.m., USA Network, PRN Radio)
- Saturday, Sept. 16: Bass Pro Shops Night Race (7:30 p.m., USA Network, PRN Radio).
Off-track activities for the weekend include:
- Thursday, Sept. 14: DJ Sterl the Pearl’s Foam Party (post-Thursday doubleheader).
- Friday, Sept. 15: Tim Dugger concert (following Food City 300)
- Saturday, Sept. 16: Kenny Wallace and John Roberts host Trackside Live (Food City Fan Zone Stage, 4 p.m.)
- Saturday, Sept. 16: Midland (Pre-race concert, 5:30 p.m.)
See a full entertainment schedule on www.BristolMotorSpeedway.com.
To purchase tickets, visit www.BristolMotorSpeedway.com or call (866) 415-4158.