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Hingorani (Third) Collects ARCA West Championship; Sawalich Holds Off Thompson for Win

In what turned out to be a fun battle to the finish between William Sawalich and Dean Thompson, it was the 17-year-old Sawalich who held on to score the race win in the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 100 at Phoenix Raceway.

The win was sweet redemption for the Minnesota native, who back in March won the pole, and led 94 laps before being involved in a couple of crashes on his way to a 13th-place finish at Phoenix Raceway.

“I feel like what happened in March was a really good race for me, a good first race. I learned a lot for this race in general. I knew in coming here that I wanted to make up for it,” Sawalich explained.

He wanted to make up for it, and he sure did. Sawalich started from the pole, and led all but seven of the laps in Friday’s ARCA West season finale.

It was the first-career ARCA Menards Series West win for Sawalich, who won the ARCA Menards Series East championship and recorded four wins in ARCA Menards Series Main and East companion events this season.

“It was a good run with the Joe Gibbs Racing team,” Sawalich said of his run. “We had a really fast Sound Gear Toyota Camry, and really proud of what we did all year, and to close it out like this, it was a really good way to close it out.”

Sawalich has been really stellar this season and has raced with the maturity of a grizzled veteran. Even with his solid performance, the young racer says he has identified some areas that he needs to improve for next season, and he looks forward to racing with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota again.

“For next year, I feel like doing the same thing, but a little bit better,” Sawalich stated. “I feel like I, personally, have a few things to work on. For us to grow as a team, I feel like that’s already been done. Not much to do except win races.”

For Thompson, a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, it was another near-miss at a win in the ARCA ranks this season. In five starts in the ARCA Menards Series this year, Thompson recorded three top-five finishes and five top-10s. Friday’s race was his first ARCA West start of 2023, and it resulted in a runner-up finish.

While it was a great battle for the overall race win, the attention was on Sean Hingorani in the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota, who was looking to secure the 2023 ARCA Menards Series driver championship.

Hingorani was the only driver not named William Sawalich to lead during the race, as he held the top spot for a seven-lap stint after snatching the lead from Sawalich on a restart at Lap 26.

On Lap 33, Sawalich would get back by Hingorani on another restart, and from there, Hingorani was on the defense.

Despite some tight battles with his Venturini Motorsports teammates Dean Thompson and Kris Wright with 50 laps to go.

Hingorani held on and closed out the race strong with a third-place finish.

“Wish we would have won the race today, but we got into trouble, fell back to 10th, drove back up to third,” Hingorani said. “So, we executed pretty good today.”

Hingorani had a 30-point advantage coming into the day, so the podium finish was more than enough to secure the title for the 17-year-old.

“It felt great to get the championship,” Hingorani said after the race. “We had a lot of ups and downs throughout the year. But me and the VMS guys powered through it and here we are today 2023 ARCA Menards Series West Champions.”

Jack Wood and Tyler Reif rounded out the top five finishers in the race.

With his fifth-place finish, and Trevor Huddleston suffering a 20th-place finish after a spin early in the event, Reif was able to finish second in the overall ARCA Menards Series driver standings.

Landen Lewis, who was one of the main championship contenders in the ARCA West Series driver standings, before losing his ride with four races remaining, made his return to the series in the No. 97 CR7 machine and finished a solid sixth.

Bradley Erickson, Tanner Reif, Kaden Honeycutt, and Sebastian Arias were the finishers in positions seven through 10.

Here is the final top-10 rundown of the 2023 ARCA Menards Series West Driver Point Standings:

With the ninth-place effort, Honeycutt secured the 2023 ARCA Menards Series Owners Championship for the Cook Racing Technologies and team owner Bruce Cook.

The No. 17 team, which had great performances all season long between Landen Lewis and Honeycutt, ended the season with an 11-point advantage over the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports group.

ARCA Menards Series West Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 100 Race Results

1118William Sawalich100---Running49
2320Dean Thompson1000.850Running42
3215Sean Hingorani 1004.002Running42
4528Jack Wood1007.511Running40
5813Tyler Reif 1008.165Running39
6797Landen Lewis1008.913Running38
71023Bradley Erickson 10011.196Running37
8616Tanner Reif10013.721Running36
9417Kaden Honeycutt 10015.054Running35
10142Sebastian Arias10022.160Running34
111625Toni Breidinger10023.346Running33
121346Justin Johnson 10027.523Running32
132221Ethan Nascimento10027.909Running31
142070Kyle Keller10028.763Running30
151702Dylan Smith 991 lapRunning29
16247Takuma Koga991 lapRunning28
1796Lavar Scott 991 lapRunning27
182811Robbie Kennealy 973 lapsRunning26
19154Eric Nascimento Jr.973 lapsRunning25
202150Trevor Huddleston964 lapsRunning24
211941Johnny Borneman III964 lapsRunning23
221255Kris Wright964 lapsRunning22
232505David Smith 946 lapsRunning21
242612Ryan Roulette 8317 lapsRunning20
251888Joey Iest8218 lapsRunning19
26113Todd Souza6436 lapsAccident18
272371Nick Joanides6436 lapsAccident17
282727Bobby Hillis Jr595 lapsAccident16
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