In his first career ARCA Menards Series start, 15-year-old Tyler Reif completed the spin and win, taking the checkered flag in the General Tire 150 from Phoenix Raceway on Friday (Mar. 9) night, after making an impressive last lap pass on Landen Lewis.
Behind Reif, Lewis took second place for team owner Steve McGowan. Bradley Erickson finished third after running most of the race inside the top 10. Andres Perez de Lara and Kyle Keller rounded out the top five.
Further back, Frankie Muniz finished sixth, already eclipsing his career-high finish of 11th from the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Behind him, Conner Jones, Leland Honeyman, Trevor Huddleston and Daytona winner Greg Van Alst rounded out the top 10.
Almost immediately after the green flag dropped, Muniz spun on lap three, after getting loose under Huddleston. The Malcolm in the Middle star spun his Rette Jones Racing No. 30 around, made no contact, and continued on with his race.
After starting the race from fourth, Reif was involved in a lap 12 spin with Sean Hingorani, who spun him out after driving hard into turn 3. Reif nudged the outside wall and ended up going two laps down to get repairs. He would work his way back to the lead lap by virtue of the free pass, thanks to the various cautions throughout the race.
Pole sitter William Sawalich held control of the lead for two restarts until Jesse Love was able to better time the rookies’ launch points. Honeyman was able to take the lead on lap 26, after Sawalich washed up the track into Love, making a three-wide move on the bottom to pass them both. Honeyman held the lead until lap 47, losing it on a restart to Love.
The caution would come out almost immediately after that lap 47 restart, as Christian Rose spun going into turn one. The former D1 college baseball player had to get on the brakes to avoid Todd Souza, who washed up the track. The brake application spun Rose out, though he made no contact and kept rolling.
Sawalich would go for a spin of his own a few laps later, after making an aggressive move on Honeyman going into turn three, spinning off the left quarter panel of the No. 02 Young’s Motorsports machine. Like many before him in the event, Sawalich collected the car without any further contact and continued on.
On the restart, both Honeyman and Perez De Lara were given pass-through penalties for dropping below the white line prior to crossing the start-finish line. Both drivers lost a lap in the process of serving these penalties.
The race really turned over on its end on lap 84 as leaders Love and Jack Wood were taken out in an incident after contact from Jones. Jones made it three wide into turn one after dropping low onto the dogleg on the front stretch, washing up the track, and making contact with Wood. That spun the Rev Racing No. 6 into Love, taking him out, and narrowly avoiding a few other cars, including Erickson, in his No. 88.
After the caution, Sawalich held control of the race, but after Bobby Hillis stalled on track due to a mechanical issue, a late race caution was brought, bunching the field back up together.
After the restart, with four laps to go in the race, Honeyman made contact with Toni Breidinger, sending the Venturini Motorsports driver hard into the outside wall. The wreck ultimately resulted in a red flag. DL Wilson and Christian Rose made contact further back and piled into the incident as well. Wilson was a bit gingerly exiting his Fast Track Racing No. 12 but was uninjured.
Following the incident, Breidinger displayed her displeasure with Honeyman on Twitter.
Once the red flag was lifted, and the green flag waved for the restart, Erickson made contact with Sawalich, who was the leader at the time, spinning the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota out, after he dominated the latter half of the race.
On the final restart of the race, the younger of the two Reif brothers laid back, allowing Lewis to get a large gap on himself and Erickson, who was running second. Reif made quick work of Erickson, and caught Lewis out of turn two on the white flag, passing him for the lead, and ultimately, winning the race. It’s Reif’s first career win, coming in his first ARCA national series race. Previously, his best finish was 12th, which came in the West series season finale last November, also at Phoenix.
On the broadcast, it was mentioned by Reif’s crew chief, Tony Jackson, that he and the crew would go to IHOP after the race to celebrate, had they won.
Van Alst will leave Phoenix the same as he entered, as the points leader. Muniz sits in second place, 10 points behind, with Tony Cosentino currently sitting in third overall, 23 points off of Van Alst.
Following Phoenix, the ARCA Menards Series will endure another lengthy off period. The main division returns on April 22nd at Talladega Superspeedway, with coverage coming on FOX Sports 1 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The West series will return on April 1, as the series heads to Irwindale Speedway for its first non-combination race of the 2023 season. Coverage for that race will be exclusively on FloRacing, with the green flag dropping at 10 p.m. ET.
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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