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Rising star Connor Zilisch wins chaotic ARCA race at Dover

Sports car ace Connor Zilisch earned his first stock car victory Friday, winning a wild ARCA Menards Series race at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway.

Connor Zilisch, Spire Motorsports, Austin Hatcher Foundation Chevrolet Silverado

Zilisch, who owns LMP2 class victories in the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 this year, took the lead for the first time on lap 108 of 150 after getting into William Sawalich while the two raced side-by-side for the lead.

Sawalich, who started on the pole and led 67 laps, hit the wall hard and was knocked out of the race.

 

A late-race caution set up a restart with eight laps remaining, but the 17-yeaar-old Zilisch got a good jump on Gio Ruggiero and held him off by 0.986 seconds to claim his first series win.

The victory counts both as a national series win and in ARCA East, where Zilisch is competing for the series title.

“I can’t even lie, those first 70 laps I was pretty intimidated,” Zilisch said. “I was saying, ‘Oh the car’s free, the car’s free.’ We were sitting under the red (flag) on the backstretch and I was like, ‘Damn, I just need to get on the gas.’

“I was getting down on myself there. I was running fifth, sixth and wasn’t making up any ground. Just so thankful for this entire team. Those restarts were hectic, but we kept it up front and got ourselves a win here at The Mile.”

Carson Kvapil finished third, Lavar Scott was fourth and Andres Perez rounded out the top five.

The race was halted for nearly eight minutes following a wreck on lap 75 which started when Christian Rose, the series points leader going into the race, had a tire go down and slammed hard into the wall off Turn 4.

Amber Balcaen tried to avoid Rose’s damaged No. 32 car, which was briefly trailing flames, and spun and hit the inside wall. After exiting the car, she walked gingerly with help before getting on a stretcher and was transported to the infield care center.

 

Balcaen was released from the care center with her left foot and ankle wrapped heavily. She said she was “fine” but would be seeking further evaluation of her foot.

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