ARCA Notes: Reif Wins in First Start at Pheonix Raceway
Fifteen-year-old Tyler Reif passed Bradley Erickson for second and Landen Lewis for the lead within the final two laps to score his first career ARCA Menards Series win in his first career series start. He joins Todd Gilliland (Toledo, 2015), Christopher Bell (Salem, 2016), and Myatt Snider (Toledo, 2016), among others, who have won in their first ARCA Menards Series start.
Reif and his Lowden-Jackson Racing team became the first ARCA Menards Series West team to successfully defend their home turf to win the annual combination race with the ARCA Menards Series at Phoenix Raceway.
Reif was involved in an early-race crash – he spun after contact from another car and then made contact with the turn four retaining wall – and dropped two laps down to the leader. Reif regained his position on the lead lap with well-timed cautions in the first half of the race, then quickly worked his way back through the field to maintain a constant presence in the top three in the final third of the race.
Landen Lewis earned his best ARCA Menards Series finish since winning at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in 2021 and his best ARCA Menards Series West finish since he won last April at Kern County Raceway Park.
With their runner-up finish, Lewis and crew chief Amber Slagle combined to score the best-ever ARCA Menards Series finish for a team with a female crew chief.
Sixteen-year-old and Phoenix-area native Bradley Erickson finished third in his ARCA Menards Series debut driving for veteran West owner Mike Naake.
In his first start for Rev Racing, Andres Perez de Lara finished fourth after he spun late in the race battling for the fifth position. Perez de Lara finished third in the ARCA Menards Series West finale at Phoenix last fall.
Kyle Keller finished fifth, giving four of the top five positions to ARCA Menards Series West regulars.
William Sawalich made his ARCA Menards Series platform debut driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and claimed the General Tire Pole Award with a lap of 132.582 miles per hour. Sawalich was leading coming to the green in overtime when another driver made contact with his left rear quarter panel sending him spinning across the wide paved frontstretch apron relegating him to 13th, the final driver on the lead lap.
Frankie Muniz recovered from an early-race spin to finish a career-best sixth in his hometown race. Muniz resides in nearby Scottsdale, about 30 minutes from the track.
There were a total of 13 cautions for 75 laps, both a record high for the ARCA Menards Series at Phoenix Raceway.
There were eight lead changes among five drivers. Sawalich led a race-high 94 laps.
Daytona winner Greg Van Alst continues to unofficially lead the ARCA Menards Series championship standings by ten over Frankie Muniz. Tony Cosentino is third, 23 points behind, Jesse Love is fourth 25 points behind, and Christian Rose rounds out the top five, 27 points out of the lead.
Tyler Reif unofficially leads the ARCA Menards Series West standings by four points over Lewis.
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is the General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, April 22. The race will be televised live on FS1 and broadcast on select affiliates of the MRN Radio network nationwide.
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series West is the NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday, April 1. The race will be streamed live on FloRacing and broadcast on a delayed basis on CNBC.
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series platform is the ARCA Menards Series East season-opener at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday, March 25. The Pensacola 200 will be streamed live on FloRacing and broadcast on a delayed basis on CNBC.