Race Weekend Central

ARCA Power Rankings: Jesse Love, VMS Closing in on Two Championships

The No. 18 team is the best in ARCA Menards Series competition at The Milwaukee Mile. On Sunday (Aug. 28), William Sawalich won the Sprecher 150 to give his team three straight wins at the one-mile racetrack.

When the checkered flag flew at Milwaukee, only a quarter of the 2023 ARCA season is left. Fifteen races down, five to go. Still, some results in the Sprecher 150 produced changes to the Frontstretch ARCA power rankings.

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William Sawalich Dominates ARCA Race at Milwaukee

1. Jesse Love

Jesse Love’s runner-up performance ended Venturini Motorsports’ seven-race winning streak across the ARCA platform. Fittingly, it came at Milwaukee, a racetrack where the organization has never won before.

Love led nine laps as he passed Sawalich on both late-race restarts, but Love was unable to keep Sawalich behind him for long as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver drove to a 2.125-second margin of victory.

Love’s performance on Sunday benefitted him, nevertheless. He added to his already massive points lead. The money maker for teams is the owner’s points purse. Entering Milwaukee, Love’s No. 20 entry led JGR’s No. 18 by 27 points. Yes, Sawalich won, but Love’s finish plus his one point for leading a lap minimized the damage to only a six-point difference atop the owner’s standings. Last year, VMS lost the owner’s title to the No. 18 in the season finale at Toledo Speedway. This year? The Toyota powerhouse is well on its way to claiming both the owner’s and driver’s title courtesy of Love.

2. William Sawalich

Sawalich’s victory was the second of his main series career and the third of his ARCA Menards Series East career.

Milwaukee was the penultimate race of the East season and Sawalich all but locked up the championship.

With his win, winning the pole and leading the most laps, Sawalich accrued the most points possible in an ARCA event at 49. Luke Fenhaus meanwhile finished sixth, thereby scoring 11 fewer points. As a result, Sawalich stretched his East points lead to 20.

Bristol Motor Speedway hosts the East season finale. Who’s won the East race there the past two seasons? The driver of the No. 18. If history repeats itself, Sawalich will visit victory lane in back-to-back East races and capture two trophies.

3. Andres Perez de Lara

It was a run-of-the-mill day for Andres Perez de Lara. He started sixth and finished seventh, one spot ahead of his Rev Racing teammate Lavar Scott.

Compared to the team’s results in the 2022 Milwaukee race, Perez de Lara did not do anything jaw-dropping. He finished inside the top 10 and stayed second in points, gaining five points over Frankie Muniz.

But with only five races left this season, it feels like Perez de Lara is on the cusp of breaking through for his first ARCA victory. He received some consolation though thanks to claiming CGS Imaging Four Crown for his success at four different racetracks, all different types of courses too.

4. Frankie Muniz

Muniz is firmly on the struggle bus as of late. After earning his career-best finish of fifth at Michigan International Speedway, also his first-ever top five, Muniz has three results outside the top 10 in the past four races. Eleventh at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in a tough race, a disappointing 16th-place run at Watkins Glen International and 12th at Milwaukee.

In the Sprecher 150, Muniz momentarily appeared to have a mechanical issue on his No. 30 as he slowed on the frontstretch before regaining full power in his No. 30 entering turn 1. His 12th-place day left him exactly in the middle of the 23-car field. Yes, Malcolm was in the middle of the finishing order. Not something Muniz wants to write home about though.

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Landon Pembelton To Make First ARCA Start of 2023 at Bristol

5. Luke Fenhaus

In three main series starts, Fenhaus has a victory, second and sixth, in that order. Add in his East totals of two wins, six top fives and seven top 10s in the seven races and Fenhaus has been outstandingly impressive.

Remember, Fenhaus’ equipment came from GMS Racing, whose driver Daniel Dye came oh so close to winning the ARCA title last year. Still, even with the best equipment, drivers do not always deliver the best performance.

I know Fenhaus, barring a strong car count and bad luck for Sawalich at Bristol, will be disappointed not to win the East title.

Do you know what the craziest stat of Fenhaus’ ARCA tenure has been? His career-worst race was at Milwaukee when he finished sixth. Yes, sixth! He too was upset about it as contact from Conner Jones cost Fenhaus a better showing.

Fenhaus’ excellence in his first season of ARCA competition makes him No. 5 in these power rankings.

Who will shine after the ARCA field takes on its second dirt track at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds? DuQuoin hosts ARCA on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 9 p.m. ET with live coverage provided by FOX Sports 2 and 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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