Race Weekend Central

ARCA Power Rankings: Jesse Love Is the Clear Championship Favorite

After every five races in the ARCA Menards Series season, series officials award the drivers who participate in those five races an extra 50-point bonus. The General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the fifth race of the 2023 season, and 11 drivers received the bonus.

As such, the 2023 points picture has become clearer and one thing is certain: the championship runs through Jesse Love. He has won three of the five races, scored four top 10s, and led a series-high 236 laps.

His stats increased thanks to his Charlotte victory, the first win at that racetrack for Venturini Motorsports.

See also
Jesse Love Wins 3 in a Row with ARCA Charlotte Win

Unofficially, Love leads Frankie Muniz by 13 points with Jack Wood, Andres Perez de Lara and Christian Rose rounding out the top five.

A quarter of the 2023 season is complete, so which five drivers stand out in the Frontstretch ARCA power rankings?

1. Jesse Love

VMS had never won at Charlotte before Friday night’s (May 26) race. Love not only took his team to victory lane, for the third straight race, he did so in dominating fashion. He won the pole, led a race-high 67 of the 103 laps and fended off his teammate Dean Thompson on a two-lap overtime restart.

Furthermore, Love’s victory was not only his third straight and fifth overall, but it was also the third straight race where VMS finished 1-2.

But with 75% of the ARCA season left, why is Love the clear favorite?

The ARCA summer stretch has 10 races from June-August, half of its season. Of those 10 races, six are at short tracks. Love is a short track wheelman, partially shown by his two ARCA Menards Series West championships. Two of the races are at short tracks, and Love finished both those events in the top five last year. Another one is at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and Love led every lap there last year too. So the schedule plays well into his favor, positioning him to bring VMS another championship.

2. Frankie Muniz

Five races into his professional racing career, Muniz is second in the points, ahead of the Rev Racing duo, a NASCAR team [AM Racing] entry and the Daytona International Speedway race winner Greg Van Alst in the points.

Muniz has four top 10s, with the lone outlier of an 11th-place showing in his series debut at Daytona. He tied his career-best performance of sixth at Charlotte, and he has completed all the laps thus far in 2023, the only driver to do so.

As a rookie, an average finishing position of 8.0 is impressive. But if Muniz has serious aspirations of winning the championship, his next step is to run inside the top five and lead laps. It won’t be easy, but Muniz has proven he’s a quick study. I certainly wouldn’t bet against him.

3. Andres Perez de Lara

After posting the second-fastest time in practice and qualifying, Perez de Lara finished seventh, earning his fourth top 10. He has finished inside the top 10 in every race he was age-eligible for as he did not start at Daytona and was credited with dead last (40th).

Charlotte was Perez de Lara’s 10th career ARCA series start. Overall, he has five top fives, nine top 10s and 59 laps led. It is a small sample size, but finishing inside the top five in 50% of his career with 90% top-10 scoring? This young driver has been fast right from the get-go in his ARCA tenure.

4. Jack Wood

Can Rev please field Wood full time in ARCA?

His 10th-place result at Charlotte gave him four top 10s for the season, equaling his career total entering 2023.

Wood is on a nice three-race top-10 streak. The California native followed his ARCA race by also finishing 18th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday night.

Wood has shown contending speed since joining Rev’s ARCA program. Remember, he was battling for the lead at Phoenix Raceway before he was collected with Love in a wreck. Overall, Wood’s improved race craft earns him fourth in these power rankings.

See also
Greg Van Alst Evaluating His ARCA Season Beyond Berlin

5. Christian Rose

The fifth spot is for grabs a little bit, but let’s award it to Rose. His eighth-place finish at Charlotte marked his second straight top 10, helping him climb back into fifth, the position he also held after Phoenix.

Rose has finished better than his qualifying position in three of the five races. He also has bettered his race craft in his second year of ARCA competition.

After an eight-race part-time 2022 campaign yielded an average finishing position of 20.3 with zero lead lap showings, Rose in 2023 has three lead lap finishes with an average finishing position of 13.8.

What must Rose do then to climb higher in both the points and these power rankings? First, qualify better. In 13 career starts, he has started in the top 10 only three times. If AM Racing can bring Rose a faster No. 32 Ford off the hauler, then with his penchant for finishing better than he started, his first career top five will be within striking distance.

The ARCA drivers get a two-week break before they return to the racetrack for their second short track race of the season, at 0.4375-mile Berlin Raceway. The 200-lap event will take place on Saturday, June 17 at 8 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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