Joe Gibbs Racing added William Sawalich as its newest driver for the ARCA Menards Series. The focus will be on winning an ARCA East championship, but Sawalich will take on an expanded racing schedule.
According to a press release, the 16-year-old will also make his Craftsman Truck Series debut through a partnership with Toyota Racing Development. He will join TRICON Garage for six races during the 2023 season, and he will take over the No. 1 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro.
“Late model racing is a foundational piece in the history of our race team, and it has been a pleasure to watch William’s success and maturation in those series’,” David Gilliland said in a press release. “We believe he will fit right in at TRICON and we are super excited to have him as part of our driver lineup.”
Sawalich joins an expanded lineup at TRICON Garage. The team first announced that Tanner Gray, Taylor Gray, and Corey Heim would be the main drivers during the 2023 season. It later added Dean Thompson after his departure from Niece Motorsports. Now Sawalich joins the lineup with his part-time schedule.
Joe Gibbs Racing Signed Sawalich to a Multi-Year Deal
With Sammy Smith moving up to the Xfinity Series on a full-time basis, there were questions about the future of the team’s ARCA Menards Series program. JGR provided an answer after the trip to Nashville for the NASCAR Awards.
On December 9, JGR announced that it had signed Sawalich to a multi-year deal. He agreed to take on a 20-race schedule in 2023, which includes the entire ARCA Menards Series East season and some ARCA Menards Series races.
Sawalich will have Starkey Hearing as his primary partner on the No. 18 Toyota as he takes on the ARCA schedule. This company will also join him for the limited run in the Craftsman Truck Series with TRICON Garage.
“I am excited to work with the Gray and Gilliland families and everyone at TRICON,” Sawalich said. “I know that the team will put forth a great effort to make sure that we have the best equipment and best teams around us. 2023 is going to be a huge year for my growth between ARCA and Trucks, and I am confident that I will learn a lot and be able to perfect my craft as a Toyota development driver here.”
Sawalich Turned Heads at Daytona International Speedway
The developmental driver won’t make his Craftsman Truck Series debut until April. For now, he remains focused on preparing for the ARCA Menards Series East schedule and his limited races in the ARCA Menards Series.
This preparation included a trip to Daytona International Speedway for the annual preseason practice session. He joined numerous drivers at the Florida track, and he controlled the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Sawalich made waves during the first day of testing. He completed 66 laps, and he posted a series-best lap time of 49.155 seconds at 183.094 mph. He held off Andy Jankowiak, who had a best lap of 49.261 seconds at 182.70 mph.
The second session at Daytona International Speedway featured Toni Breidinger topping the charts at 49.119 seconds and 183.228 mph. Venturini Motorsports teammate Amber Balcaen joined her at the top with a lap time of 49.123 seconds at 183.214 mph. Sawalich finished fifth overall with his 49.155-second lap.