While Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” nearby short track Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park hosts the ARCA Menards Series for the Reese’s 200.
The 200-lap race is the second of four combination races between the main series and the ARCA Menards Series East. Twenty-three drivers will contest the event, the 15th time ARCA has visited IRP.
In the first combination race at Iowa Speedway, the East regulars and youth prevailed. Three of the top five were teenagers and three of the top five were East regulars.
At the top of that list arguably is East points leader William Sawalich. The two-time East victor has not visited IRP before, but his three 2023 ARCA series wins all came at short tracks. His predecessor in the No. 18 Toyota, Sammy Smith, finished runner-up in this race one year ago, leading 89 of the 200 laps.
While Sawalich has led the points all East season, Luke Fenhaus has used his two wins to narrow Sawalich’s lead to 11.
In his main series debut, Fenhaus won at Iowa, joining Tyler Reif as the two drivers to win their main series debuts in 2023. Now, Fenhaus could go 2-for-2 in his main series career. He would join rare company, as only Alex Bowman and Brandon Jones have accomplished that feat. Fenhaus attests his success to his Pinnacle Racing Group team.
“It’s just the team around me,” Fenhaus told the Motor Racing Network. “Jerry and Mark Webb have produced this team really from nothing and gathered really good people around me like Lorin Ranier, Shane Huffman, his guys that he brought in. That’s what makes the job way easier. They produce really fast race cars.”
18-year-old Jesse Love finished third at Iowa. The main series points leader has won a series-high five races, including back-to-back victories. Love qualified second though finished sixth at IRP in the 2022 event.
His Venturini Motorsports team has been tremendous at IRP, winning the last four ARCA events there.
Two of Love’s teammates are teenagers Conner Jones and Sean Hingorani. While Hingorani missed Iowa due to a suspension, he has contended across the ARCA platform in 2023 with a total of three wins, eight top fives and 10 top 10s in 15 starts. Hingorani is also driving the No. 15, the VMS entry that has two of the four IRP victories.
In a part-time 2023 slate of five races thus far, Jones has finished inside the top 10 in all with two top fives. Neither Jones nor Hingorani have competed at IRP before, but the duo will certainly be upfront on Friday evening.
The Rev Racing duo of Lavar Scott and Andres Perez de Lara have not competed at IRP before, but the two finished fourth and sixth at Iowa, respectively. Additionally, both drivers are third in the points in their full-time ARCA series seasons, the East and the main, respectively.
“I am continually learning and growing as I take on these new tracks,” Perez de Lara said in a team release. “Luck hasn’t been on our side so far, but our skills have, and I know we are going to show our true capabilities here soon.”
“The team has been bringing dominate cars to the track,” Scott added. “That has me really revved up for IRP and to be on the track with a teammate, especially Andres, is always a good thing to have. I can feel a win happening soon.”
Yes, Wilson will be back in an ARCA racecar for the first time since his injury due to a crash in the ARCA race at Phoenix Raceway.
“It’s neat,” Hillenburg told Frontstretch about having Wilson back. “We were hoping D.L. was going to be able to run all the East races. Obviously, that did not work out so we will just try to get a couple of races in. Hopefully, he can get sponsorship to do all the East races next year.”
Wilson is driving the same race car he drove at IRP last year when he “ran 12th before he lost an engine,” Hillenburg continued. “Hopefully we’ve made it a little bit better where he can pick up a couple more spots.”
Tinkle finished 11th at Iowa, ending his four-race East top-10 streak. He finished 15th at IRP last year as well. Hillenburg is hopeful Tinkle can restart his top-10 streak at IRP, his home racetrack.
“I want to get him back into the top 10 which I fully feel like Zachary’s capable of,” Hillenburg added. “Maybe a little more than that if things go our way.”
IRP begins a three-race stretch, which ends the East season, with combination races for the main series and East. Also, all three are in conjunction with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on the same race day, too. The two series racing together at the racetrack has paid dividends as ARCA season-opening victor Greg Van Alst just landed a deal to complete the 2023 Truck Series season driving for Young’s Motorsports.
It is also good for the East too, Hillenburg argues, to help the series grow.
“It is a good way to help the East series. Obviously, the national series has gotten stronger each year. We’ve had more cars at every race this year, which is a good sign. The East deal, by having a couple of races that are combined, will help the East races go faster.”
So who will take home the trophy, credited with a win in both the main and East series? We will find out Friday evening (Aug. 11) at 6 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by FOX Sports 1.
About the author
Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.
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