Race Weekend Central

ARCA Power Rankings: Greg Van Alst Follows Daytona Win with Points Lead

The 2023 ARCA Menards Series season has opened with two straight first-time winners. It is the first time there have been back-to-back first-time winners in the main series since Jesse Love and Nick Sanchez won the last two events of the 2021 season.

This difference between the winners is more notable: 41-year-old Greg Van Alst won at the 2.5-mile superspeedway Daytona International Speedway and then 15-year-old Tyler Reif won at the 1-mile paved tri-oval Phoenix Raceway.

The General Tire 150 at Phoenix was also the lone combination race between the main series and the ARCA Menards Series West. After the 160-lap race, which featured 13 cautions for 78 laps, who emerged as the frontrunners in the Frontstretch power rankings?

See also
Tyler Reif Overcomes Early Spin To Win ARCA Race At Phoenix

1. Greg Van Alst

Van Alst ran inside the top 10 for most of the race. On the final overtime restart, he was third. But leader Reif initially restarted slowly, causing the inside line, including Van Alst, to start slowly as well. When the checkered flag flew, Van Alst wound up 10th, not indicative of the speed in his No. 35.

Still, Van Alst unofficially leads the points by 10 over Frankie Muniz. The Frontstretch panelists’ unanimous pick to win the championship, Love, trails by 26 points in fourth place.

“Not the finish we wanted but the showing we needed,” Van Alst posted on Facebook. “We were terrible on these types of track last year. Our winter work has paid off. Super proud of everyone on this team.”

Looking ahead, Van Alst could remain the points leader after the first quarter of the season. He will be a threat to win at fellow superspeedway Talladega Superspeedway, he has two top 10s in four starts at Kansas Speedway, and he finished fifth in the 2022 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This championship battle is beginning to look memorable.

2. Frankie Muniz

Muniz is popular with over 336,000 Twitter followers, but after two career ARCA races, he also has shown some talent. After an 11th-place finish in his series debut at Daytona, Muniz rebounded from an early spin to wind up sixth at Phoenix. Of the full-time main series drivers, he was third. As a result, after two races, he’s second in points.

Consider this: in two races with Rette Jones Racing, Muniz has a sixth-place finish. In all 20 races with the team last year, Amber Balcaen had a best finish of seventh. Yes, there are 18 races left to go in the 2023 season, but Muniz has proven he belongs in ARCA. The next question for him is can he string together top-10 streaks, nab some top fives, etc.? Based on what he has displayed thus far, I wouldn’t bet against him.

3. Tyler Reif

After he spun on lap 12, Reif fell two laps down as his Lowden Jackson Motorsports team repaired his No. 41. He was the beneficiary of two lucky dogs to return to the lead lap, but Reif wasn’t back on the lead lap until lap 60. So for 48 laps, nearly a third of the race, Reif was not on the lead lap. Indeed, his racecar was on rails.

On the final overtime restart, Landen Lewis launched ahead of Reif, causing the FOX broadcasters to question whether Lewis jumped the restart. Series officials ruled Lewis restarted legally, but the quick lead Lewis had was short-lived. Reif tracked him down, wheeling his No. 41 past him to earn his first career win.

Reif is competing full-time in both the West and ARCA Menards Series East in 2023. If his drive at Phoenix was any indication of what his 2023 will be, Reif isn’t done capturing checkered flags.

4. Andres Perez de Lara

After earning three points for participating in the practice session at Daytona, albeit logging one lap on the apron, Andres Perez de Lara piloted the No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish at Phoenix, besting his series debut finish of sixth in 2022 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Perez de Lara finished fourth in spite of two miscues. First, he made an illegal move on a restart, earning him a pass-through penalty. After recovering from that via a free pass, Perez de Lara then looped around his No. 2 whilst battling Van Alst for a position.

The Rev driver’s championship hopes are very well alive. He’s already 10th in points, trailing Love by 12 and Van Alst by 38. This organization won the championship last year with Sanchez; can Perez de Lara make it back-to-back titles? His Phoenix performance showed he has much to learn, but he is a quick learner with talent and a fast racecar.

See also
William Sawalich Displays His Talent in His ARCA Debut

5. Tony Cosentino

How in the world has Cosentino made it to third in the points with zero top 10s? In fact, he finished 15th in both races. Furthermore, he caused the first caution of the 2023 season when he spun his No. 45 at Daytona.

“First two races have been a success for sure, we’re a new team trying to learn everything we need to do to do things right, but we’re close!” Cosentino told Frontstretch. “Have a lot to build on for sure.”

It is a testament to Cosentino that he has kept his No. 45 out of trouble, avoiding any major trouble at Daytona as well as no involvement in any cautions at Phoenix.

Race 2 PHOENIX!Check it out!

Posted by Tamayo Cosentino Racing on Sunday, March 12, 2023

Love and some of the other series regulars who encountered trouble at Phoenix, like Christian Rose, will certainly improve upon their end results. To do so though, they must pass Cosentino, who has driven back-to-back smart races to begin his first full-time campaign with his new co-owned team, Tamayo Cosentino Racing.

The main ARCA series takes a break before visiting Talladega. The General Tire 200 will take place on Saturday, April 22 at 12:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.

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