This past weekend was the return of NASCAR to The Milwaukee Mile. By all accounts it was a resounding success. This Grandstand was an example of the excitement and enthusiasm displayed by all who attended.
I spoke with many fans along the backstretch who echoed those sentiments!
The return of NASCAR brought the ARCA Menards National and East Series together for a dual race in the Sprecher 150. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returned with the Clean Harbors 175. Their race is the second leg of their round of 10 Championship races. Two weeks ago, it was Seymour, WI's, Ty Majeski who won the first race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park to lock himself into the Round of 8. The talk was he should be the favorite with his experience in the super late models with several wins of the past couple of years. So in Saturday's practice, what does he do, but lead all.
In post practice media availability, he said that the truck, being heavier than the super late models, drove differently and the sims were slightly off from actually driving. He stated that they did get to change things to make the truck better and he expected better drivability in the race.
Next up on Saturday, were the ARCA Menards Series cars. The hottest driver in the series was Jesse Love with eight wins. Coming in from the East Series was William Sawalich and Luke Fenhaus. William was leading Luke by 9 points for the East Championship. In Practice, it was William and Jesse one and two. Qualifying ran right practice and again it was William and Jesse followed by Grant Enfinger, Connor Jones and Sean Hingorani to round out the top five. Grant Enfinger had never driven at Milwaukee and took the opportunity to get some experience as he is in the top ten in the run for the truck championship.
If you don't know William, he is 16 years old from Eden Prairie, MN and drives for Joe Gibbs Racing. In fact, his qualifying run shattered the track record set by Ty Gibbs in the exact same car
With the completion of the day's action, everything was looking good for Sunday for truck qualifying with ARCA leading off the race double header followed by the Craftsman Trucks.
Truck qualifying was first up and out of nowhere Grant Enfinger took the pole! In practice he had been twelfth, however he had been practicing in the ARCA car and had qualified third for the ARCA race. His strategy must have been working!
After qualifying, we learned that Ty Majeski's team received a penalty after a tire was seized by NASCAR. His crew chief, Joe Shear Jr. was suspended for the race, the team lost the tire without a replacement, Ty would start from the back of the pack and make a pass through on pit road immediately after the drop of the green flag. Ty had qualified 13th.
That is a long way to go to catch up to the leaders!
Next up was the Sprecher 150 for ARCA Menards and East Series.
At the start of the race with William and Jessie starting side-by-side, it was a drag race to turn 1 with two of the best at starts/restarts. Jesse got there first, but it wasn't long before William got by him and was gone.
William was definitely the faster car all day. The only time Jesse could challenge was on restarts by driving deeper into the corners. William would shortly get past him. William led all the way to the half way point. Near the end of the race there was a caution and again on the restart, Jesse took the lead. William tried to take the air off his spoiler to get Jesse loose, but he maintained the lead. On the next lap, William bumped Jesse to take him out of the groove and made the final pass. From there it was all William to take the win and a post-race burnout.
Victory Lane was a happy place!
This was a dominating performance by William Sawalich with Jesse Love's restarts as his only challenges.
With one race in the books, it was the Craftsman Trucks turn to hit the track, but first driver introductions led by an enthusiastic Grand Marshall Five-time Olympic Gold Medal Winning Speed Skater Bonnie Blair.
Followed by the National Anthem and the flyover by the United States Air Force's KC-135 Stratotanker escorted by two F-22 Raptors
It was Grant Enfinger with Nick Sanchez along side bringing them down to the green.
In the first stage of 55 laps, it was all Enfinger. No one could keep up. That doesn't mean there wasn't racing, it was all behind the leader
At the start of the second stage, Corey Heim showed his strength to take the lead at Lap 60 and held it until lap 94.
At lap 95, Enfinger showing his patience took the lead from Heim and led the last 15 laps to take the Stage 2 win.
During the ensuing pit stop, there was a problem that put Grant behind the leaders at the start of the Final Stage. Carson Hocevar, who started third, assumed the lead until lap 158.
At lap 159, Enfinger finally got back to the front to re-assume the lead and led the last 16 laps to take the win.
It was another very happy Victory Lane. Earlier in the week it had been announced that GMS Racing would shut down the truck team and focus their efforts as co-owners of Legacy Motor Club in the NASCAR Cup Series. Grant wanted to reinforce the idea that they were not going to lay down and quit, but were going all in to win the Championship. This win guarantees a spot in the round of eight.
While Ty Majeski, who qualified 13th and had to start dead last along with a pass through penalty had a long up and down day. However he managed a 7th place finish
William Sawalich had a very good day for a 16 year old racing at the upper levels of the sport. He won the ARCA race and ran a good truck race getting up to 5th in the latter stages of the race. That is when he got into a little bit trouble, backing into the wall to eventually finish 26th.
This past weekend with the return of NASCAR to The Milwaukee Mile, the longest continuously running racetrack in the United States, was a total success. In my opinion, NASCAR needs to be here to continue the history that was re-started this past weekend. Congratulations to The Milwaukee Mile, Track Enterprises and Jim Tretow for putting on an excellent event.
If you wish to see all the images of the weekend, for Saturday, click here. For Sunday, click here.
For the first time since 2009, The Milwaukee Mile will host NASCAR! The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will take center stage on Sunday with the Clean Harbors 175. The ARCA Menards Series will lead off Sunday with the Sprecher 150. Five-time Olympic Gold Medalist Bonnie Blair will be the Grand Marshall. Bonnie lives in the Milwaukee area and can be found training athletes at the Petit National Ice Center adjacent to the "Mile".
The event starts Saturday with one short practice for each series followed by ARCA qualifying. As a welcome back gift to the fans, there will be free parking and free access to the Grandstand between 1:00-3:30 pm. This covers both practices and qualifying.
On Sunday, the Grandstand gates open at 9:00 am followed by Truck qualifying at 10:30am and the ARCA Menards Sprecher 150 at 12:00 pm. The Clean Harbors 175 follows the ARCA Menards race at 3:00 pm.
Sunday, the favorite to take the checker flag in the truck race has to be ThorSport and Seymour Wisconsin native Ty Majeski. By his win at IRP, he leads the championship over Cory Heim (2 wins), Christian Eckes (2 wins), Carson Hocevar (3 wins), Zane Smith (2 wins), Grant Enfinger (2 wins) and Ben Rhodes (1 win). The three drivers who pointed their way into the Championship 12 are Nicholas Sanchez, Matt Crafton and Matt Dibenedetto.
With the quality of those drivers, it will be a battle all the way to Phoenix to win the championship!
In addition to the championship drivers, there is a contingent of Wisconsin drivers that would love to win at Milwaukee. Besides Ty Majeski, there is Stratford's Derek Kraus, Josh Bilicki Menomonee Falls, Dexter Bean Westby, and Wausau's Luke Fenhaus. To see the entry list for the Clean Harbors 175, click here.
In the Sprecher 175 ARCA Menards Series race, it is hard to avoid not talking about Jesse Love. With his 8 wins this season, he has a significant points lead in the Series and will be the one to watch. It should be noted that this race is a combined race with the East Series. This will be a race within a race. In the East series William Sawalwich and Luke Fenhaus have two wins a piece and are close in all categories. William has a nine point lead coming into Milwaukee. To see the starting lineup for the ARCA race, click here.
Venturini Motorsports is hosting a reunion for the all-female over the wall pit crew that led "Big" Bill Venturini to his 1987 ARCA Menards Series Championship.
NASCAR Craftsman Championship contender Grant Enfinger will be driving Codie Rohrbaugh's #97 Chevrolet in the Sprecher 175. This is his second ARCA start this season. Previously he finished 4th at Charlotte.
Former child actor, Frankie Muniz will compete in the Sprecher 175 in his #30 RJR Ford. This is his first season racing a stock car and is second in points.
This will be my home for the weekend.
I have not participated in a NASCAR race since the July 2021 Road America weekend. I appreciate Track Enterprise's Jim Tretow for all his assistance. It is now time to go racing and have a great weekend.