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MARTINSVILLE, Va. – At the start of the Long John Silver’s 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Friday night (April 14), many NASCAR fans probably didn’t know the name William Sawalich.
They quickly learned it in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at The Paperclip.
Sawalich finished ninth in his Truck debut Friday night, the fourth TRICON Garage truck to finish in the top 10 in the race.
“It was a lot of fun,” Sawalich told Frontstretch. “We had a really fast Toyota Tundra, and the TRICON guys brought a really good truck for me. I’m grateful for their hard work, and I just put together a good day and good, solid P9 finish.
“I’m really happy about that, learned a lot. Obviously, my first Truck race. I think the day went really well.”
The Eden Prairie, Minn., native is just 16 years old. That means he was born after Kyle Busch‘s NASCAR Cup Series rookie season, a driver he shared the top 10 with at Martinsville.
Sawalich previously made three starts under the ARCA banner, scoring the win at Five Flags Speedway in his ARCA Menards East Series debut last month driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
One thing Sawalich wasn’t expecting to have to do going into his Truck debut: race in the rain. The race started with the trucks running rain tires for the first time ever until the competition caution on lap 25.
“That was a little bit different than what I was expecting,” Sawalich said. “I think I handled it well, and it was just another learning experience for the future.”
In those 25 laps, Sawalich made up the most ground. He started the race in 22nd and was 12th by the time of the first caution.
“I haven’t [raced in the rain before], but it really wasn’t rain,” Sawalich said. “It was kind of damp, and honestly, the tires were a little bit better than I thought and rolled through the corner really good compared to everybody else, so I used that to my advantage and set up some good passes.”
The No. 1 truck Sawalich was piloting did not leave Martinsville scratch-free though. At one point, he got loose under Carson Hocevar, and the two made contact. Hocevar reacted by door-banging the 16-year-old on the straightaway.
“I don’t really have an explanation for it,” Sawalich said. “I just got to the inside of him because he made a mistake. And then I thought it was clean racing, I gave him plenty of room. And then he just cut down on me.
“But oh well, I saved it, and it was a good day.”
Sawalich’s has five more Truck races scheduled with TRICON this season. The next one won’t be until July 8 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
About the author
Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.
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