AVONDALE, Ariz. — The ARCA Menards West Series championship culminated Friday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway after a year-long battle with three drivers going for the series championship.
Those drivers included the No. 15 of Sean Hingorani, No. 50 of Trevor Huddlestone, and the No. 13 of Tyler Reif. Also, taking place was an owner series championship battle between the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports and the No. 17 of Kaden Honeycutt.
Meanwhile, as all eyes were focused on the championship, there was a race yet to be won.
2023 ARCA East Series champion William Sawalich entered the race and collected the pole position following qualifying Thursday night and most likely had the best view in the house as the race would be action-packed in the first 50 laps of the race.
Four cautions littered the race as many drivers had tires going down including a caution on Lap 13, which involved championship contender Huddleston who spun off Turn 2 after getting lose underneath the No. 41 of Johnny Borneman III. Huddleston fell back to the 25th position.
Following the first caution, there would be three more on Laps 20, Lap 28, and Lap 43. Lap 43 was a significant caution as the No. 17 of Honeycutt cut down a left front tire coming out of Turn 4. While Honeycutt may have brought out the caution, he was able to stay on the lead lap by beating the pace car. The caution also served as the halfway break on Lap 46 which was originally scheduled to be on Lap 50.
Furthermore, Sawalich led the field to the break with Dean Thompson in second, Landen Lewis in third, Jack Wood, and Hingorani in the top five. Sawalich had a dominant car in the first half only losing the lead once and reclaiming the top spot.
As the race went back green with 51 to go following the break, there was some trouble with eventual series champion Hingorani who fell back to seventh on the restart. Despite falling back a few spots, he did rebound to fifth and was able to catch a break due to a caution coming out with 34 laps to go.
Thanks to the caution and three cars out of the race from 26th to 28th, Hingorani was able to clinch the championship as he needed to finish 25th or better.
The final restart came with 27 to go with Sawalich and Thompson on the front row. Sawalich took off like a rocket leaving Thompson behind for about 10 laps. When the race was down to 10 to go, Thompson began catching the race leader and started to shave seconds off the leader. The lead essentially decreased to 0.400 seconds with four to go and then 0.234 seconds a lap later.
However, Sawalich was able to fend him off by 0.850 seconds at the finish line to score his first ARCA West Series victory of the season in just his fourth start in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
“It’s very special, we finished where we should’ve left off in our first race of the year here and capitalized on every opportunity we had,” Sawalich said in victory lane. “I felt like the top was the way to go for how much momentum it can roll and how much you could potentially dive down getting into (Turn) 1, and I feel like that was key to winning the race. Hats off to the guys, they did a great job on the car. It’s just special to win here.”
As Sawalich celebrated a victory, Hingorani was celebrating his first ARCA championship at the age of 17.
“This is such a great season with Billy Venturini and all the guys,” Hingorani said. “We fought so hard today and we really wanted to win this race. Overall, we put together a great year and these guys brought me a fast racecar everywhere. Billy Venturini, just a great opportunity over here and I’m so thankful for it, all these guys behind me. Really happy to be standing here today and can’t wait to see what next season holds.”
Hingorani ended the year with four victories, seven top fives, and seven top 10 finishes with two pole positions.
Official Results following the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 100 at Phoenix International Raceway.
- William Sawalich, led 93 laps
- Dean Thompson
- Sean Hingorani, led seven laps, ARCA West Champion
- Jack Wood
- Tyler Reif
- Landen Lewis
- Bradley Erickson
- Tanner Reif
- Kaden Honeycutt, Owners Champion
- Sebastien Arias
- Toni Breidnger
- Justin Johnson
- Ethan Nascimento
- Kyle Keller
- Dylan Smith, 1 lap down
- Takuma Koga, 1 lap down
- Lavar Scott, 1 lap down
- Robbie Kennealy, 3 laps down
- Eric Nascimento, 3 laps down
- Trevor Huddleston, 4 laps down
- Johnny Borneman III, 4 laps down
- Kris Wright, 4 laps down
- David Smith, 6 laps down
- Ryan Roulette, 17 laps down
- Joey Iest, 18 laps down
- Todd Souza, OUT, Accident
- Nick Joanides, OUT, Accident
- Bobby Hillis Jr, OUT, Mechanical
There were five cautions for 25 laps and two lead changes among two different drivers.
Up Next: The ARCA West Series now heads into the off-season break.