William Sawalich was fastest in practice, won the General Tire Pole in qualifying, and then led every lap to win the Pensacola 200 presented by Team Construction, becoming the 14th driver to win in their ARCA Menards Series East debut.
Sawalich’s dominant performance makes him the first driver in series history to lead every lap to win in their series debut.
Sawalich also set a new track record in General Tire Pole Qualifying at 17.220 seconds/104.530 miles per hour, besting Leyland Honeyman’s lap set in 2022 by 0.002 seconds.
Luke Fenhaus also made his ARCA Menards Series East debut, coming home an impressive second for the newly-formed Pinnacle Racing Group. The new team is led by crew chief Shane Huffman, who helmed Bret Holmes on his run to the 2020 ARCA Menards Series championship.
Two-time Five Flags Speedway sportsman champion Jake Finch finished third driving one of two entries fielded by Venturini Motorsports.
Sean Hingorani, who will also compete for the ARCA Menards Series West championship, made his East debut in the second Venturini Motorsports entry. Hingorani ran as high as third and finished fourth, the final driver on the lead lap.
Lavar Scott also made his East debut and finished fifth in Max Siegel’s Rev Racing Chevrolet. Scott also finished in the top five – fourth – in his ARCA Menards Series debut at Daytona International Speedway in February.
Tyler Reif finished sixth in his first appearance with the ARCA Menards Series East. Reif won the ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series West combination race at Phoenix Raceway three weeks ago and will be racing for both the ARCA Menards East and West championships.
Zachary Tinkle made the move to Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track High Performance Racing Team in the off-season, and their first race as a full-time combination resulted in Tinkle’s best ARCA Menards Series platform finish, seventh.
Tanner Arms scored his second career top-ten finish in eighth.
After being plagued by mechanical issues at Phoenix, West racer R.J. Smotherman made the trip east to Five Flags hoping to get his season back on track. He stayed out of trouble all night long, coming home in ninth.
Veteran Ed Pompa rounded out the top ten in a second Fast Track High Performance Racing entry, his second career East top-ten finish.
The race was only slowed by one caution flag – for the five-minute halfway break – for four laps, resulting in a new race record average speed of 82.286 miles per hour.
Tyler Reddick, who won the NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, is also a first-start winner in the ARCA Menards Series East. Reddick won in his first career East start in the 2012 season finale at Rockingham Speedway.
Sawalich leads the ARCA Menards Series East standings by seven points over Fenhaus, with Finch, Hingorani, and Scott rounding out the top five.
The next ARCA Menards Series East race, the General Tire 125 at Dover Motor Speedway, is set for Friday, April 28. The race will be streamed live on FloRacing at 5:30 pm ET and will be shown on a delayed basis on CNBC on Sunday, May 7 at 11 am ET.
The ARCA Menards Series West returns to action on Saturday, April 1 at Irwindale Speedway. The West Coast Stock Car Motorsports Hall of Fame 150 will be streamed live on FloRacing starting at 10 pm ET.
Notes - ARCA Racing Series