In baseball, 0.300 is a good batting average. Jesse Love’s batting average for winning ARCA Menards Series races is 56.25% (9 of 16). Love picked up his ninth win of the season in the Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on Sunday (Sept. 3) night.
Love led the most laps at DuQuoin, but the 1-mile dirt track provided several shakeups in the Frontstretch ARCA power rankings. Mark Kristl has more.
1. Jesse Love
In 2021, Gibbs’ stat line read 10 wins, 19 top fives, 19 top 10s, 11 poles and 1,689 laps led.
With four more races left in the 2023 season, Love has nine wins, 14 top fives, 15 top 10s, four poles and 1,029 laps led.
Love could best Gibbs in the wins category as Gibbs’ championship rival, and Love’s Venturini Motorsports predecessor, Corey Heim won six times. Love can only tie Gibbs’ top-10 total but he will not beat Gibbs’ top fives or poles. Unless Love leads all but 40 of the remaining laps in the 2023 season (660 of the 700), Gibbs will have led more laps during his historic 2021 season.
What does all this mean? For one, Gibbs’ ARCA title was truly impressive and he rapidly ascended to the NASCAR Cup Series. Love though has driven a great season. After not posting the fastest time in practice or qualifying, he dominated at the DuQuoin. As his resume shows, he truly has been the class of the 2023 ARCA field.
2. Andres Perez de Lara
For not having competed on a dirt track before the two ARCA dirt events, Andres Perez de Lara sure wheeled his No. 2 at the two 1-mile dirt tracks. He finished runner-up at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, then fourth at DuQuoin. As a result, Perez de Lara earned third place in the Performance Seed Dirt Double with a prize of $2,500. Not quite the winning Perez de Lara hoped to deliver for his Rev Racing team, but it is still a nice consolation prize.
3. William Sawalich
The Southern Illinois 100 was William Sawalich’s 10th career main series start and the 20th of his ARCA career [including the ARCA Menards Series East and West].
Of those 10 races, Sawalich has two wins, nine top fives, nine top 10s, five poles and 430 laps led. He has the second most wins, top fives and laps led. He leads the series in pole awards and is tied for the third-most top 10s. Even though he is eighth in the standings, he has been the second-best in his part-time campaign.
Sawalich won the pole at DuQuoin and led the opening 20 laps before Love grabbed the lead. Sawalich ultimately wound up fifth.
He will miss the next ARCA event at Kansas Speedway due to being underage, but he will contest the final three of the season. The young Joe Gibbs Racing pilot will be a threat to add to his stats total, including adding more trophies to his collection. Of those 20 starts in the ARCA platform, he already has five.
4. Christian Rose
Christian Rose is slowly closing the gap in points to third-place Frankie Muniz. Muniz wound up 12th after his involvement in a three-car crash. Rose meanwhile finished seventh. The five-point difference narrowed the gap from Muniz to Rose to eight points. Rose has steadily improved in his first full-time season, with 13 straight finishes inside the top 15, among those nine top 10s.
Brought it home P7 last night, wanted more. Our time will come. Thank you for riding along with us this weekend @Drillbrush! Really cool to have new partners riding with us! On to Kansas! pic.twitter.com/zHegIFRrkf— Christian Rose (@CRoseRacing) September 4, 2023
While Love and Perez de Lara have solidified their points positions in first and second, respectively, the battle for third is the closest battle among the top 10. If Rose can add more top 10 results, especially a top five, he may surpass Muniz for third and the highest-finishing Ford driver too.
5. Brent Crews
What would you have done with $7,500 at age 15? That’s the question Brent Crews faces after his runner-up result at DuQuoin earned him first in the Dirt Double.
Crews came up one spot shy of sweeping the two dirt races en route to claiming the ultimate $20,000 prize, but he earned the best average finish to take home the $7,500 payday.
Crews’ ARCA career is off to a strong start. He debuted at Watkins Glen International to a third-place finish. Two days later, he whooped the ARCA field at The Springfield Mile, winning the pole and leading 64 of the 100 laps in a victorious effort. At DuQuoin, he did not have a race-winning No. 25 Toyota, but his VMS team brought him a fast racecar as he oftentimes matched Love’s lap times. When the checkered flag flew, Love won by only 0.55 seconds.
Crews’ performance in his first three ARCA races, highlighted with his $7,500 check, earns him fifth place in these power rankings.
The ARCA field quickly returns to competition this Friday (Sept. 8) at Kansas. The 1.5-mile racetrack is the only track to host ARCA twice in the 2023 season. Love won the spring event. The fall event will get underway at 6 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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