Race Weekend Central

ARCA Power Rankings: Jesse Love Expands His Points Lead

Although there was no rain in the 2023 ARCA Menards Series event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, there were fireworks.

Points leader Jesse Love did not post a qualifying lap, Tyler Ankrum went off track during the race and Venturini Motorsports teammates tangled on the last lap. When the checkered flag flew, Ankrum took home the trophy.

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After the first road course event of the ARCA season, Love grew his points lead over Frankie Muniz – more on Muniz later.

Ahead of the next ARCA event, the first of four combination races with the ARCA Menards Series East, at Iowa Speedway, where did the contenders fall in these Frontstretch ARCA power rankings?

1. Jesse Love

A loose wire in the dashboard cost Love the chance to qualify after he posted the fifth-fastest time in practice. Although he started 19th, Love rapidly drove through the field into the top five. On the first restart following the competition caution, Love took advantage of Ankrum’s braking mistake to grab the lead.

Love led five laps, but his No. 20 Toyota began having fuel pressure problems. He slipped back to a fourth-place result, though he was the highest-finishing series regular. As a result, his points lead grew by three. So on a day when bad luck affected him, Love still bested his fellow series regulars. Now imagine when he goes back to his dominating ways; a couple more victories may be on the way for him.

2. William Sawalich

The No. 18 Toyota is fast at Mid-Ohio. Two years ago, Ty Gibbs won. In 2022, Sammy Smith finished third. Then on Friday (July 7), William Sawalich finished second. That one racecar has an average finish of 2.0 at Mid-Ohio. Sawalich has leaned on those two drivers to learn how to succeed in ARCA competition.

“For short tracks, I’ll talk to Sammy since he has been to them more recently,” Sawalich told Frontstretch at Mid-Ohio. “And then Ty, I leaned on him for Dover [Motor Speedway]. And pretty much anywhere else, he’s really good for road courses as well and he has a lot of knowledge that I can apply to everything.”

Remarkably, Sawalich has climbed up to 12th in the main series standings. Additionally, he now heads to Iowa as the East series points leader. Gibbs won there two years ago and Smith finished second. Sawalich is definitely the betting favorite for that race.

3. Frankie Muniz

In his first trip back to Mid-Ohio since he was injured in a crash, Muniz finished sixth. While he tied his career-best result, his fourth sixth place showing, Muniz was the recipient of a bump-and-run early in the race from Love.

Muniz’s No. 30 also bore his own brand on the hood, Muniz Racing. Yes, the actor-turned-racecar driver needs funding to continue running the full ARCA season, as soon as the Iowa race.

While it’s uncertain at this time whether Muniz will be at Iowa, one thing is certain: he is having fun ARCA racing.

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4. Andres Perez de Lara

Other than the season opener at Daytona International Speedway where he was listed in 40th due to being underage and therefore ineligible to compete, Mid-Ohio was the worst result of Andres Perez de Lara’s young ARCA career. He wound up two laps down in 15th due to pitting for mechanical issues during the race.

“It’s a frustrating day because we were running really good there in second catching first place and we were one of the fastest cars on track and didn’t make any mistakes so I think it was one of our best chances all year to get our first win here with Rev [Racing],” Perez de Lara told Frontstretch post-race. “But unfortunately, we had some mechanical issues there with the gearbox, it got stuck in second gear so we lost all our progress and we’re really frustrated about that. But we’ll take the positives that we were fighting with the leader.”

5. Jack Wood

Jack Wood is not racing full-time. In fact, he had not competed in the previous two races. Yet at Mid-Ohio, he earned his career-best ARCA finish, third.

Despite running part-time, Wood is tied for the fourth-most top fives as well as the fourth-most top 10s.

Rev competition director Matt Bucher told Frontstretch at Mid-Ohio that Wood’s deal with the team is because his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, wants Wood to gain more experience in his development.

The move has clearly benefitted Wood as he has earned his career-best result and has already earned his most-ever top fives, top 10s and laps led.

It has also paid dividends in Trucks as Wood has two top 10s, a new personal best, as well as another best-ever finish. KBM’s No. 51 entry, with Wood piloting it in seven of the 14 races in 2023, also sits seventh in owner’s points.

Wood’s continual improvement earns him the last spot in this week’s Frontstretch ARCA power rankings.

Newton, Ia. is the site for the next ARCA event. The Calypso 150 will take place on Saturday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by FOX Sports 2 and live streaming available on FloRacing.

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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