General Tire 150: Zilisch triumphsfor first ARCA Menards Series victory

Top speeds. Tough crashes. Triumphant winner.

Just another top start to a NASCAR weekend at the Monster Mile.

Driving the No. 28 Chevrolet for Pinnacle Racing Group, 17-year-old Connor Zilisch notched his first career ARCA victory in the General Tire 150 ARCA Menards Series race Friday at Dover Motor Speedway.

“Those first 70 laps, I was pretty intimidated,” said Zilisch, who is a development driver for Trackhouse Racing. “I just needed to get on the gas. This isn’t the easiest place to make your oval debut. To come here and not only run all the laps but get a win is exciting. These are the places I feel like I need to get better at.

“I couldn’t make any ground [for a while]. The restarts were hectic, but we kept it together. I feel like our preparation is paying off.”

Giovanni Ruggiero, first in the ARCA East standings, placed second (0.986 second behind Zilisch) in the joint ARCA Menards Series/East race. Carson Kvapil was third, Lavar Scott came in fourth and Andres Perez (ARCA Series leader) was fifth.

William Sawalich, who set a qualifying record earlier Friday and led a race-high 67 laps, spun exiting Turn 3 late in the race following a bump from Zilisch. Zilisch took over the lead from there.

“I definitely think I made a mistake there,” said Zilisch, who led 42 laps. “I do think I could have done something differently there to keep him in the race. I got a little tight and I got up into him. I will apologize to him.”

Midway through, on Lap 75, big hits seconds apart against the wall from Christian Rose (exiting Turn 4) and Amber Balcaen (along the frontstretch) brought out the red flag to pause the race. Balcaen suffered a foot injury in the crash.

“Not really sure what happened – [the car] just went straight on me,” Rose said. “It was a big hit. They call this place ‘The Monster’ for a reason.”

Zilisch averaged 98.210 mph across 150 laps in one hour, 31 minutes, 58 seconds to claim the checkered flag. Eight of the 24 drivers who started the race finished on the lead lap. Eight caution periods took up 52 laps. 

The Monster Mile’s remaining race schedule this week includes:

  • Saturday, April 27: BetRivers 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash race (1:30 p.m., FS1, PRN, SiriusXM)
  • Sunday, April 28: Würth 400 NASCAR Cup Series race (2 p.m., FS1, PRN, SiriusXM)

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The Würth 400 is the Monster Mile’s 106th NASCAR Cup Series race. 2024 marks 55 consecutive years that Dover Motor Speedway has hosted a NASCAR Cup Series event. The Monster Mile is one of only 10 tracks in the country to host 100 or more NASCAR Cup Series races.

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