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Following Redemption at All American 400, Sawalich Eyes Snowball Derby Debut

For William Sawalich, one year has led to a world of difference heading into the Snowball Derby.


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For William Sawalich, one year has led to a world of difference heading into the Snowball Derby.

William Sawalich added his name to the All American 400 history books on Sunday, becoming the youngest winner in 39 runnings of the event. He hopes to make a little more history before the year is over when he goes to the 56th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.

This all comes a year after Sawalich could not even take part in the Snowball Derby due to an incident in the All American 400. Sawalich led that race until a restart with three laps to go, then was involved in a multi-car incident among the leaders.

That incident left Sawalich with a concussion, sidelining him from the Snowball Derby. Sawalich returned to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and sealed the deal at the All American 400 last weekend.

“We had a lot of success there last year, almost won the race,” said Sawalich while appearing on ‘The Bullring’ on Racing America. “That’s actually the race I got my concussion. Going into this race, I knew we’d have a lot of speed.”

Sawalich already had a win on the weekend, having scored the checkered flag at Phoenix Raceway in ARCA Menards Series West on Friday. That limited Sawalich’s practice time over the weekend, but he quickly got up to speed.

“I only had about an hour of practice, about 20 laps total, coming from the ARCA race at Phoenix. I knew I was a little behind the eight ball.

“During the race, I just learned all I could behind the wheel for the last 100 laps. I knew that was the most important time during the race. Bond [Suss] had some good strategy calls and gave me the adjustments I needed to win the race and have a fast race car.”

Bouncing back from last year’s disappointment and adversity to win a crown jewel Super Late Model event moves the victory to the top of Sawalich’s list of biggest wins to date.

“I would say it’s pretty much number one right now. It’s hard to compare it to other wins. This is my first crown jewel win, so that’s really special to be able to do that. To come back from last year, a race I should have won, and set a tone that I can win these races. It’s pretty special to do that.”

Sawalich’s win at Phoenix gave him seven victories under the ARCA banner in 2023. Four of those wins helped propel Sawalich to the ARCA Menards Series East championship, where he never finished worse than fourth during the season.

That experience, along with six NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts – including three top-10 finishes – has helped Sawalich step up his game in his Super Late Model appearances.

“I felt like, at the end of the year, a lot of focus was put down to win races. That’s what I was able to do. In the Truck, getting those top 10s and getting the experience there, and bringing that to the ARCA racing and Super Late Models. It’s fun to jump back in the Super Late Models. It always seems like it’s a great car, because they’re much lighter, more horsepower. It’s everything you want in a race car.”

Now, Sawalich’s focus turns entirely to the Snowball Derby, taking place November 30-December 3 at Five Flags Speedway. Sawalich has won in both the ASA Southern Super Series and ARCA Menards Series East at Five Flags, but hopes finishing his season with a string of Late Model races will be the best preparation of all entering the Derby.

“I feel like I’m going to be more prepared than any other Super race than I’ve been to this year. Racing Late Models three times in a row will also help me. Switching from car to car, it takes me a practice to get used to it. Being up to speed right away will be helpful to dial the car in. I’m used to that type of racing again from racing at Nashville.”

-Photo credit: Will Bellamy/Racing America

56th Derby


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