From Brandon White | ARCA
NEWTON, Iowa — Saturday’s Calypso 150 at Iowa Speedway was a case of déjà vu for Luke Fenhaus and William Sawalich.
In a repeat of the ARCA Menards Series East Music City 200 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway earlier this year, a caution with less than five laps remaining gave Fenhaus an opportunity to derail Sawalich’s perfect race in overtime.
Just like at Nashville, Fenhaus took advantage of the last restart by powering past Sawalich on the bottom line. He successfully held off one final charge from Sawalich to score his first victory in the main ARCA Menards Series and his second in ARCA Menards Series East competition.
“I knew I had to win the race,” Fenhaus said about the overtime attempt. “[Sawalich] was giving me the bottom and you can get ran into so easily on the top. I had to hit my restart right and not spin the tires. I got into [Turn] 1 really well and used the racetrack ahead of me. It was enough for the win.”
Fenhaus got plenty of practice for Saturday’s pivotal moment in Tuesday’s Slinger Nationals at Wisconsin’s Slinger Super Speedway.
What appeared to be a convincing second victory for Fenhaus in the prestigious asphalt late model race was undone by a late-race caution. Fenhaus chose the bottom for the ensuing restart but did not get the launch he needed over Ty Majeski, who tallied his third Slinger Nationals win.
Only a few days removed from the heartbreaking loss, the roles were reversed for Fenhaus at Iowa. He spent the entire evening trying to chase down Sawalich, who was in pursuit of Joe Gibbs Racing’s fourth consecutive win at the facility.
A caution for Conner Jones’ spin was what Fenhaus needed to mount a challenge for the win. He had made incremental progress on Sawalich while trying to get a second lane going, but those efforts had proven fruitless until the last caution flag.
Being able to overtake Sawalich off Turn 2 was a cathartic moment for Fenhaus. He was thrilled to not only beat a Joe Gibbs Racing car, but to also celebrate a victory at Iowa Speedway, which is located just a few hundred miles away from his hometown in Wausau, Wisconsin.
“I was just trying to get the top to work,” Fenhaus said. “I was free in and free off, but it was also hot and slick all day. To come away on top means a lot. This is a big one for us and even sweeter to have all my friends and parents here. It was a special one.”
Fenhaus now has two ARCA Menards Series East victories on his rookie season despite only leading a combined total of four laps. He now has momentum on his side as he attempts to chase down Sawalich for the ARCA Menards Series East championship.
ARCA Menards Series points leader Jesse Love salvaged a third-place finish after a difficult day. Rounding out the top-five finishers were Lavar Scott and Toni Breidinger.
The ARCA Menards Series will be back in action next Friday for the Sunset Hill Shooting Range 150 at Pocono Raceway. FS1 and FloRacing will both have coverage of the race, which is set to begin shortly after 6 p.m. ET.
The ARCA Menards Series East returns to action alongside the ARCA Menards Series with the running of the Reese’s 200 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park on August 11. The event, which begins shortly after 6 p.m. ET, will be broadcast live on FS1.
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Photo's: ARCA | Matthew Putney | Luke Fenhaus