ARCA Menards Series West: 2024 Portland Race Review

By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires

The Portland 112, third race of the 2024 ARCA Menards Series West season was won by William Sawalich. A first road track victory for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver who left his opponents no chance in the second segment of the race.

A race marked by numerous mechanical incidents and accidents from practice until the drop of the checkered flag. Sean Hingorani, who arrived in Portland (PIR) at the head of the championship, was not spared from mechanical problems and saw Tyler Reif, fourth in the race, take the lead. The battle of left and right turns continues next Friday on the twisty and highly technical road track in Sonoma, CA.

Here is the full summary of the race.


William sawalich took a dominant victory in the arca menards series west at portland international raceway.
Photo by Ethan Smith via Vincent Delforge.

From the practice session, William Sawalich showed that he was in good shape by being the only one to go under 77 seconds per lap in 76.933 sec (92.184 mph). Narrowly ahead of Xfinity Series driver Brandon Jones (Cook – MMI Racing) and PIR specialist Caleb Shrader (Jerry Pitts Racing). Note the various spins and other forays into the grass for many drivers including Nick Joanides (Jan’s Racing) and Todd Souza (Central Coast Racing) but without serious damages. Several drivers also encountered technical problems like Bobby Hillis, Jr. (Fierce Creature Racing) or David Smith (Shockwave Motorsports).

During the qualifying session, Brandon Jones took pole position, his first in his career, in 76.379 seconds, more than seven tenths ahead of Sawalich! But the latter declared that he had not forced himself by favoring the setup of his Toyota for long runs. Note that Jones sets the new track record in its 1.97 mile configuration at 92.853 mph held since last year by Landen Lewis.

Many incidents were reported during the session. Bobby Hillis, Jr., Giovanni Ruggiero (Venturini Motorsports) did spins. Todd Souza suffering from an engine and oil line problems. Dave Smith (Performance P1 Motorsports) with clutch failure. Note that Tony Huffman (Fierce Creature Racing) did not do a lap due to a power steering issue.

Green Flag!!

William sawalich took a dominant victory in the arca menards series west at portland international raceway.
Photo by Ethan Smith via Vincent Delforge.

22 cars follow the Toyota Supra acting as pace car following the withdrawals of Dave Smith and Tony Huffman. Todd Souza starts from the back following an engine change. From the start Jones retained the advantage of his pole position, behind Sawalich was overtaken by Marco Andretti (Cook – MMI Racing) for second position. Everything is going quite well in the pack apart from inevitable little friction of the bodywork. Only Tanner Reif (Naake-Klauer Motorsports) will have to return to his pit box following damage to his motor hood. Quickly Andretti is already starting to lose positions.

The first yellow flag arrived on the fifth lap following Todd Souza’s immobilization on the track. The veteran once again suffered an engine problem. No free pass because everyone was still in the leader’s lap. The newcomer Jake Walker also stops at his pit box, victim of a mechanical failure. Ruggiero also makes a pit stop for adjustments.

At the restart on the eighth lap the top five is next with Bandon Jones leading ahead of Sawalich, Jack Wood (Bill McAnally racing), Tyler Reif and Dale Quarterley (Quarterley Racing). Andretti who hit Quarterley’s rear bumper at first braking. Andretti was forced to return to his pit box on the ninth lap to repair. Quarterley gained positions and quickly found himself third but it was not going to last, his car suffered following the contact with Andretti.

On lap 10 the standings are as follows: Jones, Sawalich, Hingorani, Wood, Tyler Reif, Isabella Robusto (Venturini Motorsports), Shrader, Trevor Huddleston (High Point Racing), Eric Johnson, Jr. (Bill McAnally Racing) and Kyle Keller (Kenealy Keller Motorsports). Note that Andretti makes a second pass through his pit box, his radiator having been damaged. Joanides does a spun without causing a yellow flag.

The fight for fifth position is fierce between Robusto, Tyler Reif and Huddleston.

Problem for Hingorani, Sawalich Puts Pressure on Jones.

William sawalich took a dominant victory in the arca menards series west at portland international raceway.
Photo by Ethan Smith via Vincent Delforge.

Sean Hingorani loses speed and has to return to the pits. He lost two laps while his team resolved the problem. Huddleston drops out of the top-10 following an escapade in the grass. Ditto for Joanides who is not his first off the track of the day. All of his incidents do not cause caution.

The race seems to settle down but on the 19th lap Bobby Hillis, Jr. misses the chicane and has to stop before resuming the race. Hingorani is now three laps behind the leaders. It will be impossible for him to maintain first position in the championship unless there are major failures for Tyler Reif and Trevor Huddleston.

The top-five in the 20th lap is composed of Jones, Sawalich, Wood, Shrader and Ruggiero

On the 21st lap the yellow flag was waved for the second time following Caleb Shrader’s stop on the track due to a drive train issue. Really a shame because he was fourth and closing in on Wood. The free pass is for Joanides.

At the restart on the 25th lap, Jones retained the leadership ahead of Sawalich, Wood, Ruggiero and Johnson, Jr. But very quickly the latter was overtaken for fifth position by Robusto then by Tyler Reif.

Braking for the chicane at the start of lap 26 Sawalich dived inside and managed to take the lead from Jones despite contact during re-acceleration. Quarterley continues his comeback and is now seventh.

Halfway Break

William sawalich took a dominant victory in the arca menards series west at portland international raceway.
Photo by Ethan Smith via Vincent Delforge.

The third yellow flag comes on lap 30, it’s the five-minute mid-race break. Andretti receives the free pass and returns to the leader’s lap.

At the restart on the 34th lap Sawalich didn’t give anyone the chance to steal first position. Quarterley passes Tyler Reif for sixth. Robbie Kennealy (Kennealy Keller Motorsports) spun but can quickly restart without causing a yellow.

On the 35th lap Joanides spun again and stopped, this time in the last corner and he caused the fourth yellow of the race. Tanner Reif smashed his motor hood and had to stop at his pit box. Bobby Hillis, Jr. receives the free pass while he is 16th.

The restart was given on the 39th lap and Sawalich retained his leadership. The rest of the top 10 is made up of Jones, Wood, Ruggiero, Robusto, Quarterley, Tyler Reif, Johnson, Jr., Huddleston, and Andretti.

Robusto quickly overtook his teammate Ruggiero. Quarterley does the same in stride to enter the top-five.

Johnson, Jr. in the Tire Barrier, Wood “Pass” in the Grass

Fifth yellow on lap 47 when Eric Johnson, Jr., then seventh, crashed into the tire barrier of the last turn. For the second time in the race Joanides benefits from the free pass.

William sawalich took a dominant victory in the arca menards series west at portland international raceway.
Photo by Ethan Smith via Vincent Delforge.

The restart is given on the 51st lap, seven laps from the end. Sawalich maintains first position ahead of Jones but they were lucky. Indeed, when braking, Jack Wood misses, goes into the grass and slides across the track and overtakes the leading duo! But he continues his slide on the other side into the grass without touching anything. No yellow but he is now last in the lap. The end of the races are definitely difficult for the BMR drivers like in Bakersfield, depriving them of big points even though they had the speed to go for the win.

This figure from Wood caused a small break in the leading group. Sawalich and Jones now having a few steps ahead of Isabella Robusto, Tyler Reif and Giovanni Ruggiero.

With three laps to go, Jack Wood clashed with Bobby Hillis, Jr. The latter spun. Wood is now 12th.

William Sawalich won the race 4.510 seconds ahead of Brandon Jones who was unable to do anything in the final laps.

“We definitely worked on our road course program during the offseason and I worked on myself,” Sawalich said. “I wasn’t that great [on road courses] last year, but I put in the work and got the win [at Portland] so that feels really good. We have a lot of confidence rolling into Sonoma and I know we’re going to be good there.” “This gives me more confidence on road course races,” Sawalich said. “I know how to lead a road course race now I guess, but we’re getting the ball rolling. I just can’t thank these [Joe Gibbs Racing] guys enough for this car being so good right off the bat.”

The top-five is completed by Robusto, Tyler Reif and Ruggiero.

Positions from sixth to tenth being occupied by Quarterley, Andretti, Huddleston, Keller and Takuma Koga (Jerry Pitts Racing).

Note that with this third position, Isabella Robusto obtains the best result for a woman in the West Series on a road track, beating the fourth position obtained by Julia Landauer in 2016 in Tooele, UT.

Japanese native Takuma Koga obtains his fifth consecutive top10 in Portland, which makes him the record holder for top10s on this Oregon road track beating Eric Holmes who got  four..

In the championship Tyler Reif takes first position with 117 points. That is 10 ahead of Hingorani (107), 11 ahead of Huddleston (106), 16 ahead of Wood (101) and 19 ahead of Keller (98). Sawalich despite one less race is sixth with 97 points.

Next race Friday June 7, 2024 at Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, CA for the General Tire 200, the second and last road race of the season, which is streamed live on FloRacing.

See you quickly on Kickin The Tires for the full driver-by-driver reactions and analysis of this Portland race. 

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