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William Sawalich Earns Redemption with Dominant Win at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway

After dominating the event, William Sawalich lost the 2023 Music City 200 in the most devastating way possible, getting passed on a late-race restart by Luke Fenhaus of Pinnacle Racing Group.

Now, one season later, after clinching the 2023 ARCA Menards Series East championship and winning the All American 400 — one of the most prestigious Late Model events in the country, which takes place at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway — the 17-year-old driver has earned his redemption.

Sawalich, driving the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, ended up being untouchable throughout Saturday’s 150-lap contest in Nashville, Tennessee, after his closest challenger Gio Ruggiero crashed on the fifth lap of the race, after suffering a flat left rear tire.

Making the first, and only, pass for the lead on a quickly-fading Ruggiero four laps into the race, Sawalich led the field for the remainder of the 146 laps, with nobody mounting a real charge against the No. 18 despite numerous attempts via restarts.

“Yeah, it was a really good race, we had a really good Starkey/SoundGear Toyota Camry,” Sawalich said in Victory Lane. “Just really great to be here, love this track, won the All-American 400, lost this race last year on a restart, and redeemed ourselves, so it’s good.”

Isabella Robusto, making her ARCA Menards Series East debut for Venturini Motorsports, ended up finishing second place, matching Kenzie Ruston as the highest-finishing female driver in the series, but was the only one who could stay in the same zip code as Sawalich, though it wasn’t enough to challenge.

Connor Zilisch, who had triumphed in the series’ most-recent event at Dover Motor Speedway, came home third, after a long-winded and spirited battle with Robusto for the runner-up spot, before the Pinnacle Racing Group Chevrolet SS faded on the final green-flag run.

Sawalich, Robusto, and Zilisch were the only three drivers to finish on the lead lap.

In fourth place, the first driver at least one lap off the pace, Zachary Tinkle earned his first-ever top-five result under the ARCA Menards Series platform, driving the No. 11 for Fast Track Racing and Andy Hillenburg. Andrew Patterson, making his series debut in a second MAN Motorsports entry, rounded out the top five.

Tyler Scofield finished sixth in his second career ARCA East start, while Caleb Costner was seventh, Jayson Alexander eighth in his series debut, Hunter Wright in ninth for MAN Motorsports, and DL Wilson rounding out the top-10 for CW Motorsports.

Cody Dennison was 11th, Michael Maples 12th, and Rita Goulet 13th. Those were the drivers that finished Saturday’s 150-lap race.

After winning the pole position, Gio Ruggiero will come home with a costly 14th-place finish, after cutting a left-rear tire and crashing hard into the first corner, leaving him several laps off the pace, and eventually out of the race after busting a brake rotor.

Tanner Reif managed to have the most significant incident of the evening at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, after the Cook Racing Technologies entry was attempting to get back to the pits, but slammed into the tire barrier at the end of the pit road, destroying the No. 42 Chevrolet. Reif would finish 15th.

After three of eight ARCA Menards Series East events, Connor Zilisch leads William Sawalich by five points, with Gio Ruggiero in third place just six points off the pace, Zachary Tinkle is fourth in standings, 18 back, with DL Wilson in fifth-place.

Next for the ARCA Menards Series East is Flat Rock Speedway, which will take place next weekend, Saturday the 18th of May.

Music City 150 — Race Results:

1218William Sawalich150--Running48
2355Isabella Robusto1505.155Running42
3428Connor Zilisch15011.180Running41
4511Zachary Tinkle1491 lapRunning40
5696Andrew Patterson1491 lapRunning39
6707Tyler Scofield1491 lapRunning38
7993Caleb Costner1491 lapRunning37
81210Jayson Alexander1482 lapsRunning36
9895Hunter Wright1473 lapsRunning35
101039DL Wilson1473 lapsRunning34
111306Cody Dennison1464 lapsRunning33
121199Michael Maples1464 lapsRunning32
131531Rita Goulet13614 lapsRunning31
14120Gio Ruggiero49100 lapsRetired32
151842Tanner Reif26123 lapsRetired29
161648Brad Smith23126 lapsRetired28
17170Nate Moeller23126 lapsRetired27
181412Presley Sorah20129 lapsRetired26
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