After establishing himself as a contender for the ARCA Menards Series championship with a victory his last time out, Jesse Love doubled down and perhaps established himself as the championship favorite with a dominant victory in Saturday’s (May 6) Dawn 150 at Kansas Speedway. Love led 96 of the 100 laps en route to his fourth career ARCA victory.
On a sweltering, nearly 90-degree day in Kansas City, it was Love who quickly proved to have the best car. It was also evident early on that Taylor Gray would be the greatest challenger, after the Denver, N.C. native charged from the fifth starting spot up to second in the first five laps.
Love cruised out front, the nearest miss coming on lap 26 when Sean Corr spun right in front of him.
Frankie Muniz, who entered the day as the points leader, encountered trouble at the race’s halfway break in the form of an unlikely mishap. As a crew member passed a water bottle through the window, the bottle engaged the killswitch and nearly spelled disaster for Muniz. Although his crew would push-start him to get the car refired, Muniz found himself down a lap as the race resumed.
Immediately following the halfway break, Love received his greatest challenge to that point in the race as Gray briefly took the lead on the restart. The two swapped the lead between themselves several times in an intense battle that allowed third-place Dean Thompson to close in and even take the point himself for one lap. Love, however, quickly disposed of Thompson and re-established his dominance over the duration of a long green flag run.
After the most hot-and-heavy battle for the lead of the race, the caution would once again come out, this one for the biggest incident of the race. With 36 laps to go, Amber Balcaen broke loose off of turn 2 and lost it before proceeding to tag Jason Kitzmiller and send him hard into the outside wall. Kitzmiller’s car would burst into flames before coming to rest near the entry of turn 3.
The race resumed with 27 laps remaining, Muniz claiming the free pass to return to the lead lap. As Love and Gray battled side-by-side, Thompson once again utilized the extreme outside to rocket to the top of the board momentarily before Love once again recaptured the top spot.
Another Corr spin would bring out the final caution with 25 laps to go where many lead lap cars opted to come and take tires, including the likes of Christian Rose, who utilized his new rubber to rebound to a top-10 finish.
Following the final caution, Love would never look back on his way to winning the Dawn 150 and putting a bow on his near-perfect day at Kansas. Thompson finished a solid second to Love, with Gray coming home a distant third after late wall contact.
Fourth place was Connor Mosack, followed home by the Rev Racing teammates of Jack Wood and Andres Perez de Lara. Seventh was Cody Coughlin, and Muniz was able to recover to eighth place by the end. Rose and Greg Van Alst completed the top 10.
On Friday, May 26, ARCA rolls into its second mile-and-a-half speedway of the season, with the General Tire 150 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and the Fox Sports app.
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