Following Saturday evening’s (June 24) ARCA Menards Series race at Elko Speedway in Minnesota, seven of the 20 races on the 2023 schedule have been completed.
Those seven races have seen four different drivers win, including current points leader Jesse Love, who has won four times this season, including the most recent race at Elko Speedway. Love held off a hard-charging William Sawalich for much of the 250-lap event, and extended his points lead to a 40-notch advantage over second-place Frankie Muniz. So, who stood out at Elko to make this week’s edition of the 2023 Frontstretch ARCA power rankings?
1. Jesse Love
It didn’t take long for the 18-year-old Love to find victory lane in 2023, winning in his third race of the season at Talladega Superspeedway. However, it was even quicker for the California-born driver to find it again, winning each of the next two races and three of the next four including the most recent event at Elko. Love leaves Minnesota looking toward Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as the current points leader, with a 40-point lead over second place Muniz.
Love proved to be more than dominant at Elko, leading 235 of the 250 laps of the event. The impressive run didn’t come without a bit of controversy, as he and Sawalich had a few run-ins while battling for the lead, much like the previous race weekend at Berlin Speedway in Michigan.
Of the seven races completed thus far, Love has led the most laps in five of them, the only two exceptions being Daytona International Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. He currently looks to be a heavy favorite to win the 2023 title.
2. William Sawalich
The 16-year-old Minnesota-born driver might not be full time in ARCA in 2023, but his presence has been known in each of his starts this season. After three starts in the national division this season, Sawalich has finished 13th at Phoenix, after being spun late in the going, second at Elko, and won his first career race at Berlin after making a late race pass on Love.
In the most recent Elko event, Sawalich led 15 laps but was spun by Sean Hingorani halfway through the race and spent much of the latter half working his way back up through the 19-car field. His efforts came up just shy, finishing second at his home racetrack to Love, roughly a second behind.
Sawalich’s next start in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota follows right along with the series schedule, as he’ll tackle the road course at Mid-Ohio on July 7, when the stars of ARCA return to the track next.
3. Frankie Muniz
After seven races, it’s very clear that Muniz belongs in the ARCA series. He has finished in the top 10 all but twice in his seven starts this season and currently sits second in the overall points standings, 40 notches behind points leader Love.
The most recent race weekend at Elko was the first to prove unkind to the actor-turned-racecar driver. Muniz encountered his first DNF of his career after making heavy head-on contact with the frontstretch wall as a result of contact with Davey Callihan. Despite the wreck, Muniz was inside of the top six for much of the event, showing that his talent is more than enough to compete with the stars of the series despite the lack of experience he has in comparison.
The next time ARCA takes to the track, it’ll be a more familiar environment for Muniz: a road course. Muniz has raced sports cars and champ cars in his career, most of which have seen their races occur on road courses as opposed to ovals, which could mean Muniz has an upper hand on the competition for the weekend.
4. Andres Perez de Lara
Eighteen-year-old Andres Perez de Lara is having a very quietly consistent 2023 ARCA Menards Series season. The Mexican-born driver has rattled off four top fives and has yet to finish lower than seventh place for Rev Racing this season.
Perez de Lara encountered a bit of an early season points deficit, not being able to compete at Daytona due to age restriction, but has already attempted to claw out of that hole. He’s currently sitting 52 points out of Love’s points lead in the third position overall.
Much like his previous races, Perez de Lara was quiet at Elko, but still consistent, running inside of the top eight for most of the event, bringing the car home clean and inside of the top five when the checkered flag flew.
5. Tony Cosentino
For a first-year team, what Tony Cosentino and Tamayo-Cosentino Racing have done this season has been extremely impressive. While the 34-year-old has only scored two top 10s in seven races, he has brought the car home clean and inside the top 15 in every single race this season.
Cosentino and team faced a new challenge at Elko, bringing a second entry for young driver Jalen Mack to the racetrack, the No. 43. While that car didn’t turn a lap all weekend, it became a career day for Cosentino. He was able to finish in seventh, a career best for both him and his team. Cosentino leaves Elko in fourth place in the overall season standings, 64 points behind Love.
Cosentino heads to a familiar track of sorts in Mid-Ohio, a course where he has made two previous ARCA starts, both coming with Fast Track Racing. Both of those starts resulted in finishes just inside the top 20, including a 19th-place finish at the event in 2022.
ARCA returns to the racetrack on Friday, July 7 at Mid-Ohio for the Zinsser SmartCoat 150. FOX Sports 1 will have the television coverage for that event, which is set to kick off at 6 p.m. ET that evening.
About the author
Josh joined Frontstretch in 2023 and currently covers the ARCA Menards Series. Born and raised in Missouri, Josh has been watching motorsports since 2005. He currently is studying for a Mass Communication degree at Lindenwood University
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