After a late-race caution and a single-lap overtime dash to the finish, Luke Fenhaus was able to secure the upset in Nashville, scoring his first ARCA Menards Series East victory in the Music City 200 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
Fenhaus, making his third career start in the East Series, was consistent throughout the entirety of the 200-lap contest and was able to save his equipment in the final stint of the race.
However, when Rita Goulet, driving the No. 31 for Rise Motorsports, spun around on the final lap of the race, the caution was displayed, setting the field up for a one-lap overtime dash at the 0.596-mile facility.
The Pinnacle Racing Group driver was able to get a fantastic restart, holding William Sawalich down on the bottom lane, and clearing him off the second corner, beating the race’s dominator back to the start-finish line for the win.
It's his first win in just his third ARCA Menards Series East start! pic.twitter.com/k4yo7w4ES7
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) May 14, 2023
“What a racecar,” said Fenhaus in victory lane. “We showed it there early on and I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with the green-white-checkered. I knew the No. 15 was close to me and I wasn’t sure how the green-white-checkered was going to play out. I had one job – to hold him on the bottom off of two and I knew I would get him.”
William Sawalich finished in the runner-up position on Saturday, a result that in hindsight is disappointing, after starting on pole and leading 204 of 205 laps, and nearly finding himself in victory lane with the trophy.
“I knew we had the fastest car it was just a matter of executing and I think he jumped the start a little bit, but you know, stuff happens like that, and got a shot from the rear and spun my tires. So, unfortunately, we ended up losing, but we had the fastest car here.”
Sean Hingorani finished third, scoring his best finish of the ARCA Menards Series East season thus far, after a difficult start to his campaign at Five Flags and Dover.
Gio Ruggiero scored a fourth-place finish for Venturini Motorsports in his ARCA East debut, subbing for Isabella Robusto, who is out with a concussion from a Late Model crash at Hickory Speedway.
After being unable to make laps in both practice and qualifying, due to electrical gremlins with his No. 1 Phoenix Construction Toyota Camry, Jake Finch recorded a top-five result, finishing all 200 laps without a single issue.
Over the course of the race on Saturday, only two issues really were catalysts for stoppages, once a spin by Tanner Arms, along with two additional spins by Rita Goulet.
In the second half of the event, it looked as though Sean Hingorani had something to potentially challenge Sawalich, but contact with a lapper hindered any additional speed for the Venturini Motorsports driver.
William Sawalich, by virtue of a second-place finish at Nashville, retains the lead in the ARCA Menards Series East points standings, holding a five-point advantage over Luke Fenhaus, and seven points over Jake Finch.
Though slightly further behind, Lavar Scott and Sean Hinograni remain in early contention for the ARCA East title in 2023, just 18 and 20 points behind Sawalich.
Up next for the ARCA Menards Series East is a return to Flat Rock Speedway, where the field is expected to be significantly larger than the series has seen in recent weeks.