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Connor Zilisch Nudges Way to Win at Dover; First Career ARCA Win

Connor Zilisch wins ARCA Dove race 2024 General Tire 150 race recap

Screengrab from FS2 Broadcast

Connor Zilisch continued his swift climb up the stock car racing ladder on Friday as he scored his first career ARCA Menards Series victory in the General Tire 150 at Dover Motor Speedway, which was just his second career start. The win also served as his first career ARCA Menards Series East win as this was a combination event.

While the 17-year-old phenom looked like a posied veteran as he held off a furious field of drivers on the final restart of the race, Zilisch admitted that he lacked confidence earlier in the race.

“Yeah, I can’t even lie. Those first 70 laps, I was pretty intimidated,” Zilisch explained. “I was saying, ‘The car’s free, the car’s free,’ and then, we’re sitting under red on the backstraightaway and I was like, ‘Damn, I just need to get on the gas.’ Derek Kneeland up on the spotter stand, Shane Huffman on the pitbox, they did a great job keeping me in it. I was down on myself there. I was running fifth, sixth, and couldn’t make any ground. Just so thankful for this entire team.”

Zilisch snagged the win in the No. 28 Pinnacle Racing Group Chevrolet, it wasn’t without controversey. On a restart at Lap 109, Zilisch made contact with William Sawalich, who led a race-high 67 laps, which sent Sawalich into the wall, and out of the race.

“Those restarts were hectic, but we kept it up front and got ourselves a win at The Monster Mile,” Zilisch exclaimed.

Gio Ruggiero, who served a penalty for an illegal restart late in the race, rallied to finish runner-up to Zilisch in the No. 20 Venturini Motorsports entry. Ruggiero led 41 laps in the race, and looked like the only real challenger to Sawalich until the contact from Zilisch changed the outcome of the race.

With the runner-up finish, Ruggiero was able to cling to his narrow ARCA Menards Series East championship lead. Ruggiero now holds a three-point advantage over Zilisch after Dover.

Carson Kvapil came home in third, despite suffering damage to the right quarterpanel of his No. 82 Pinnacle Racing Group machine, damage which necessitated the team repurposing its pit sign into a body panel on a repair during the second and final race break caution.

Lavar Scott finished a drama-free fourth, and he came in ahead of his Rev Racing teammate Andres Perez, who rounded out the top-five finishers. With his top-five finish, Perez assumed the ARCA Menards Series point lead by one point over Greg Van Alst.

Kris Wright finished sixth after a late incident with his Venturini Motorsports teammate Toni Breidinger. With 14 laps to go, Wright had a big run off of Turn 4, and as he attempted to pass on the outside, Breidinger didn’t see him, and turned right into him.

While Wright would come home in sixth, Breidinger would finish 15th, three laps off the pace.

Andy Jankowiak, Greg Van Alst, Caleb Costner, and Zachary Tinkle capped off the top-10 finishers in the 24-car field.

Christian Rose, who entered the day as the ARCA Menards Series point leader, saw disaster strike on Lap 75 as something appeared to break on his No. 32 AM Racing Ford, which sent him hard into the outside wall in Turn 4.

As Rose’s car burst into flames, Amber Balcaen made an evasive maneuver to miss Rose’s crumpled race car, but in doing so, she spun and collided with the inside wall.

Video: Christian Rose, Amber Balcaen Involved in Hard Crash at Dover

The impact into the inside wall caused an injury to Balcaen’s foot, and as she climbed from her car, she limped to safety workers.

After a trip to the infield care center, Balcaen took a golf cart ride back to the garage and her foot was wrapped up with a support embedded under the wrap. Aside from the foot injury, Balcaen says she is fine.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” Balcaen said. “It was a decently hard hit. I feel fine everywhere else, just gotta see what’s going on with my foot.”

Hopefully, Balcaen’s foot injury isn’t too severe. The driver of the No. 22 Venturini Motorsports entry sits fourth in the championship standings, just 18 points out of the lead despite the crash at Dover.

ARCA Menards Series / ARCA Menards Series East General Tire 150 Race Results

1628Connor ZilischPinnacle Racing Group
Chevrolet / Silver Hare Development
2320Gio RuggieroVenturini Motorsports
3482Carson KvapilPinnacle Racing Group
Chevrolet Performance
456Lavar ScottRev Racing
Max Siegel Inc
572Andres PerezRev Racing
Max Siegel Inc
6815Kris WrightVenturini Motorsports
FNB Corporation
71173Andy JankowiakKLAS Motorsports
Galactic Acres
81535Greg Van AlstGreg Van Alst Motorsports
Holzerman General Contracting Window/Door
91893Caleb CostnerCostner Weaver Motorsports
1473 lapsRunning35
102011Zachary TinkleFast Track Racing
Racing For Rescues
1446 lapsRunning34
111639D.L. WilsonCostner Weaver Motorsports
Heart O' Texas Speedway / ETR
1446 lapsRunning33
121706Cody DennisonWayne Peterson Racing
1428 lapsRunning32
131910Ed PompaFast Track Racing
Infinity Aggregates LLC / Double H Ranch
1418 lapsRunning31
142199Michael MaplesFast Track Racing
Don Ray Petroleum LLC / Maples Motorsports
14010 lapsRunning30
15925Toni BreidingerVenturini Motorsports
13713 lapsRunning29
16255Brent CrewsVenturini Motorsports
Mobil 1
11733 lapsOut28
17118William SawalichJoe Gibbs Racing
Starkey / Sound Gear
10842 lapsOut30
182203Alex ClubbClubb Racing
Race Parts Liquidators
9654 lapsOut26
191017Marco AndrettiCook Racing Technologies
Group 1001 / MMI
8961 lapsOut25
201322Amber BalcaenVenturini Motorsports
Icon Technologies
7476 lapsOut24
211232Christian RoseAM Racing
West Virginia Department of Tourism
7476 lapsOut23
221442Tanner ReifCook Racing Technologies
Vegas Fastener Manufacturing / MMI
6585 lapsOut22
232431Rita GouletRise Motorsports / Max Buchanan Foundation
35115 lapsOut21
242312Mike BashamFast Track Racing
NASCAR Technical Institute
4146 lapsOut20
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