For the fourth time in the 2023 ARCA Menards Series season, William Sawalich has found victory lane, winning the Shore Lunch 200 on Saturday (Oct. 7) at Toledo Speedway.
Sawalich used a bump-and-run move with 35 laps to go to pass Jesse Love for the lead while the duo was battling through lapped traffic.
“I was calm cool and collected, and I think that was the best thing I could’ve done in that situation,” Sawalich told FOX Sports’ Heather DeBeaux. “We navigated it really well, and the race car was on rails.”
Love finished second, finishing the 2023 season with 10 wins and a championship title to his name. He finally celebrated his championship season post-race.
“I was a lot different of a person when I first got to Venturini than I was now. Billy sat me down and told me, ‘You’re going to be a lot different when you leave here than when you got here’,” Love told DeBeaux. “We did everything we needed to do today, be smart, and I’m just grateful to be a part of it all.”
Behind the pair of Love and Sawalich, two more cars ended the race on the lead lap. Sean Hingorani came home third, tying his season-best finish, a mark he has earned five times throughout the season. Andres Perez de Lara finished fourth, the last car on the lead lap. The finish ensures he will end the year with three straight top-five finishes, doing so in four of the last five races as well.
Rounding out the top five was Christian Rose, who fell off the lead lap with a handful of laps to go in the race. It’s his second top-five race of the season, both coming in the last two races on the schedule. It was announced by FOX Sports during the race broadcast that Rose is expected to return to ARCA in 2024.
The remainder of the top ten saw Mason Ludwig finishing sixth in his series debut, with Andy Jankowiak coming home seventh after a mid-race crash. Frankie Muniz finished eighth, ending his rookie season on a high note. Dylan “Mamba” Smith finished ninth, tying his best finish from his only other career start in ARCA. Stephanie Moyer earned her first career ARCA national division top 10, by finishing 10th.
Like he’s done many times this season, Love retained the lead at the initial start of the event, pulling out in front of Sawalich. Love held a comfortable lead for much of the first run of the race, but Sawalich inched his way forward, eventually catching Love’s rear bumper on lap 50. Sawalich got around Love shortly after on lap 56, as Love opened up the entry of turn 3, allowing the driver of the No. 18 to go by. The lead duo didn’t change from there, as the field went into the first scheduled race break on lap 75.
The green flag flew again on lap 80, starting the second stint of the race. Like Love on the initial start, Sawalich jumped out to a lead into the first set of turns, while Venturini Motorsports teammates Love and Hingorani leaned on each other for second, knocking the series champion back to third. It wouldn’t take long for Love to rebound, however, putting him back behind Sawalich. However, before the battle for the lead could heat up, the caution fell on lap 100 for Nate Moeller, who spun.
Sawalich again edged out Love on the restart, retaining the lead by the time the field reached the backstretch. The 16-year-old held that lead without contest until the caution fell again on lap 125 for the second, and final, scheduled race break.
The race once again restarted with 70 laps to go, as Love got the jump on Sawalich, taking the lead away on the restart, doing so on the outside lane through turns 1 and 2. That set up a 20-lap dash, in which Love pulled away from Sawalich until the caution flew again with just over 50 laps to go. Smith got into Jankowiak, spinning the driver of the No. 73 around into the outside foam block wall, as Jon Garrett piled into the wreck later. The wreck put Smith multiple laps down and ended Garrett’s day, though Jankowiak was able to continue on the lead lap.
Love pulled back to the lead over Sawalich, as the race restarted with 49 laps to go, though Sawalich kept Love’s lead to a smaller gap than the restart previously. Sawalich caught Love with lapped traffic and put the bumper to the No. 20, passing him for the lead with just over 30 laps to go. That move proved to be the deciding factor of the race, as Sawalich never looked back, and took the checkered flag 30 laps later, winning at Toledo.
While this race wraps up the 2023 season for the national division of ARCA, three races still remain in ARCA Menards Series West. The next of those is the Star Nursery 150 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The green flag for the event is scheduled to go green at 10 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 13. Live coverage of the race will be exclusively on FloRacing. Tape-delayed TV coverage of the race will air on CNBC on Oct. 28 at 10 a.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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