Race Weekend Central

ARCA Preview: 2023 General Tire 150 at Phoenix

The ARCA Menards Series returns to the track for the first time since the season opener at Daytona International Speedway last month, as the series heads to Phoenix Raceway.

The General Tire 150 acts as a combination race, marking the second on the schedule for the ARCA national division and the first for the ARCA Menards Series West. The winner of the event will be credited with a win in both divisions.

Thirty-three cars are entered for the event, which is down from 39 that started at Daytona. Of the four main series events at Phoenix, it’s the second-highest total, down six from the 2022 edition.

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Entry List: 2023 General Tire 150

The race will be the fourth ARCA event held at Phoenix, with the first occurring in 2020. The list of former winners of the race are notable, as each have gone onto higher levels of the sport, with Chandler Smith winning the inaugural race, Ty Gibbs taking the checkered flag in 2021 and Taylor Gray winning the event in 2022.

Current series points leader Greg Van Alst comes into Phoenix fresh off his first career win at Daytona, doing so after completing a pass on leader Jason White in turn 3 on the final lap. After the race, the 41-year-old had a celebratory dinner of pizza and Krispy Kreme donuts.

Venturini Motorsports driver Jesse Love enters the second race of his first full-time season 10 points out of the standings lead. After qualifying at the front row at Daytona, Love finished the race in seventh, but heads to a track in Phoenix that has been kind to him in the past.

Love has only finished outside of the top 15 once in six Phoenix starts, and clinched both of his West titles at the mile-long track. 

Hollywood actor-turned-racecar driver Frankie Muniz will make his second career series start at Phoenix, which also acts as a home race for the driver. Muniz grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., which is roughly a 48-mile drive from the racetrack. Muniz and his Rette Jones Racing team will also debut a new sponsor this week, as locally owned gaming bar The Hot Chick comes aboard the car for the weekend. 

Sixteen-year-old William Sawalich is set to make his ARCA debut this weekend in the desert, driving the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing. The youngster from Minnesota follows Connor Mosack, who brought the No. 18 to a runner up at Daytona.

The race also marks the first event of the West schedule. It’ll be the 50th time the series heads to Phoenix, with former winners including NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison

Among the West drivers is Trevor Huddleston, who returns to the series full-time after running a part-time schedule in 2022. Over the course of four previous starts at the track, Huddleston has a best-career finish of seventh, which he earned back in the 2020 season. 

“Honestly, I think that is the most important race of the year for many reasons,” Huddleston told Frontstretch. “One, even though you are racing against your West guys, you’re able to get an advantage because the more positions you finish in front of them, the more you gain points. Even though I’m racing all people, if I get 10 positions between me and the next guy running full-time, that’s 10 points. So that’s huge.”

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Who Will Shine in the 2023 ARCA West Season?

Lowden Jackson Motorsports kick off its season at Phoenix with both of its drivers, RJ Smotherman and Tyler Reif. Both drivers will run their first full-time seasons in 2023 and both are based out of the southern Nevada area. 

Reif, who just recently celebrated his 17th birthday, ran the West season finale at Phoenix last year, finishing 12th. 

“It was my first one-mile (track) that I ran and it’s really fun,” Reif said. “I like spreading out 10-wide through the dogleg on the restarts. It’s such a big track for the ARCA cars, but still racy at the same time.

“I think it’s super cool,” he added about running a companion race with the main series. Also running full-time in the ARCA Menards Series East, Reif will compete in four companion races in 2023. “I’ll learn from the guys who are a little bit older so it’d be cool to get behind them and drive behind them as they’re more experienced.”

As for Reif’s teammate, Smotherman also ran last year’s season finale at Phoenix Raceway, finishing 26th and retiring early due to an ignition issue. 

“I’m excited for the ARCA national race,” Smotherman said. “That’ll be awesome, a great chance to learn from some more experienced drivers and watch what they do and how they operate. I’m excited for that race because if we do good, that’s an awesome chance to show that we belong in running with the big guys being that we are a newly-started team.” 

Joining Love at Venturini this week is 16-year-old Sean Hingorani, who makes his first start in 2023. He will join Reif as running full-time in both the East and West in 2023. Hingorani ran five West races last season, finishing as high as 12th at Portland. 

Prior to the race on Friday, the field will have a 45-minute practice session, and a 20-minute qualifying session shortly after. The green flag of the General Tire 150 is set for 8 p.m. ET that evening.

The race will be televised live on FOX Sports 2 and streamed live on the FOX Sports app. The race can also be heard on select affiliates of the MRN Radio network nationwide and on MRN.com. 

About the author

Josh joined Frontstretch in 2023 and currently covers the ARCA Menards Series. Born and raised in Missouri, Josh has been watching motorsports since 2005. He currently is studying for a Mass Communication degree at Lindenwood University

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