|PHOTO: Christian, @TheLowkeyGenius|
by Ben Schneider
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer
Tim Monroe finished last for the 4th time in his ARCA Menards Series career (as well as the first time in his ARCA Menards Series West career) in Friday’s General Tire 150 at Phoenix Raceway when his No. 10 Fast Track Racing Ford fell out with power steering issues after completing 23 of 160 laps.
The finish came in Monroe’s 20th career ARCA start.
Debuting in the series in 2020, Monroe ran more than half of the 2022 ARCA Menards Series season, making 13 starts for Fast Track and one for Ryan Huff’s No. 36 team. While most of Monroe’s starts have consisted of “start-and-park” entries, he did score a strong seventh-place finish on the lead lap at DuQuoin last season to go with an eighth and a sixth at Springfield and DuQuoin respectively in 2021. His first last-place finish in ARCA came at Lebanon in 2020, followed by two more at Talladega and at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2022.
In all, 32 cars appeared on the initial entry list for Phoenix, though only 31 ended up taking part in the race. The lone DNS from Phoenix was Monroe’s Fast Track teammate Bryce Haugeberg. Haugeberg’s No. 11 Ford placed 26th in practice with a best lap of 30.662 seconds; however, he contacted the wall after losing the rear end in Turn 4, damaging his car beyond repair. Because Haugeberg did not take the green flag, Monroe will be credited with this week’s last-place finish just as Hunter Deshautelle was at Daytona after Andrés Pérez de Lara’s DNS.
In qualifying, 28 of the 31 remaining cars recorded a lap time, the slowest of which was Brad Smith, whose No. 48 Copraya.com Ford clocked in at 32.553 seconds. Monroe ended up one row ahead of Smith on the grid, placing 26th on the timing charts with a time of 31.880 seconds.
Several minor incidents slowed the pace early on, including spins for Frankie Muniz, Tyler Reif, and A.J. Moyer, all of whom were able to continue in the race with minimal - if any - damage. After completing 23 laps, Monroe pulled behind the wall to become the race’s first retirement, followed by Brad Smith and R.J. Smotherman, who each completed 26 circuits before falling out with clutch and drivetrain issues respectively. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Jack Wood and Jesse Love, who were taken out in an accident involving Love’s Venturini Motorsports teammate Conner Jones, who was able to continue on and finish seventh.
On a more serious note, driver D.L. Wilson, driving a third Fast Track Racing car, would also encounter misfortune towards the end of the race when he was caught up in a crash involving Christian Rose. Entering Turn 3 on Lap 147, Leland Honeyman Jr. sent Toni Breidinger up the track and into the wall. As the pack looked to avoid Breidinger, Rose hit Wilson, sending them both into the barrier. Wilson sustained a sternum injury in the crash as well as three broken ribs and a concussion. Per team owner Andy Hillenburg on Twitter, he was released from the hospital Sunday evening and is expected to make a full recovery.
At the front of the field, 16-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing development driver William Sawalich took pole position in his ARCA debut, but a spin on a late-race restart denied him of the win. It was 15-year-old Tyler Reif who capitalized on this opportunity, recovering from his own spin earlier in the race to pass Landen Lewis on the final lap. The younger brother of two-time ARCA West race winner Tanner Reif, Tyler’s victory came in only his third career ARCA West start and his first under ARCA’s national tour.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
31) #11-Tim Monroe / 23 laps / power steering
30) #48-Brad Smith / 26 laps / clutch
29) #46-R.J. Smotherman / 26 laps / drivetrain
28) #6-Jack Wood / 80 laps / crash
27) #20-Jesse Love / 83 laps / crash
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet, Ford (1)
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Brother-in-Law Motorsports, Fast Track Racing (1)
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES WEST MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (1)
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES WEST OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Fast Track Racing (1)
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES WEST DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP