Race Weekend Central

ARCA Power Rankings: When Will Jesse Love Clinch the Championship?

The Sioux Chief Fast Track 150 at Kansas Speedway was aptly run at an extremely fast pace. The 100-lap ARCA Menards Series race at the 1.5-mile racetrack took an hour and nine minutes to complete and the average speed was 130.12 mph.

When the checkered flag flew, Connor Mosack finally parked his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in victory lane. It’s his first career ARCA win and the third for JGR in ARCA in 2023.

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Mosack’s torrid pace, leading 64 of the 100 laps, combined with attrition to the top three in points – more on them later – among others resulted in quite a statistical feat: only two drivers finished on the lead lap.

Mosack celebrated his first ARCA victory, and he was not the only one who enjoyed Friday’s race (on Sept. 8) at Kansas. In fact, the top seven finishers all earned or tied their career-best ARCA results.

The Frontstretch ARCA power rankings reflect the drivers’ performances, both good and bad, in the Sioux Chief Fast Track 150. Let’s take a look.

1. Jesse Love

Jesse Love suffered the second-worst result in his ARCA career at Kansas, 19th after his No. 20 blew a right-front tire and caused terminal damage that led to a DNF.

Love now has two DNFs in the 2023 season, yet he still has a massive 128-point lead.

Thanks to his series-high nine wins and his large points lead, Love could clinch the 2023 championship before the season finale at Toledo Speedway.

The maximum number of points one can accumulate in an ARCA event is 49. There is also one more 50-point bonus for participating in the final five events of the season. The tiebreaker is the number of starts, then victories.

There are three ARCA races left this season, at Bristol Motor Speedway, Salem Speedway and Toledo. To clinch the 2023 championship at Bristol, Love must have a 149-point lead after the Bristol race. Therefore, he’d need to gain 21 more points than Andres Perez de Lara at Bristol. While it is not an impossible task, it is more likely Love clinches, presuming no more poor finishes with good runs from Perez de Lara, at Salem where he’d need a 100-point lead after that race to clinch.

Salem would be a fitting racetrack for Love to mathematically clinch too. He scored his first national series victory there in 2021.

2. William Sawalich

Bristol hosts a combination race for the national ARCA series and the ARCA Menards Series East. William Sawalich, who did not compete at Kansas due to being underage, has a 20-point lead over Luke Fenhaus. Barring misfortune striking Sawalich and Fenhaus excelling at Bristol, Sawalich will become the 2023 East champion.

Despite not competing at Kansas, Sawalich still has the second-most wins, top fives and laps led in the national series.

But how’s this for a crazy stat at such a young age? In his first year of ARCA competition, Sawalich already has more career laps led in ARCA than the top three in the 2022 points – Nick Sanchez, Daniel Dye and Rajah Caruth. All three of whom now race full time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Sawalich will look to add to that total at Bristol as he is on the verge of clinching his first career title in a NASCAR-owned series. Yes, Sawalich’s racing career is off to a spectacular start.

3. Andres Perez de Lara

For the third time this season, including the season opener at Daytona International Speedway when he was underage, Perez de Lara suffered a DNF. His No. 2 made contact with the wall, then further sustained damage forcing the Rev Racing rookie driver to call it a day, winding up 17th on the leaderboard.

So even as Love met an unfortunate end to his race, Perez de Lara did too. Therefore, there was no points change between the two drivers as they both scored 27 points.

Consider this then: Perez de Lara has driven the second-most laps in ARCA competition in 2023, even 11 more than Love. That’s staggering when he did not complete any of the 80 laps at Daytona, his engine expired prematurely 14 laps before the end at Michigan International Speedway and he completed a little over half the laps at Kansas (57 of the 100). Rev has a gem wheeling its No. 2.

4. Connor Mosack

Mosack’s victory felt like a long time coming. In his first five starts with JGR entering Kansas, Mosack had four top fives, five top 10s and 51 laps led.

Oh yeah, Mosack also upset a few folks in 2023 too. He made Greg Van Alst angry at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which partly caused Van Alst to no longer run ARCA full time this season. Mosack then angered Gus Dean at Michigan, the second time Dean became displeased with Mosack in 2023.

In the Sioux Chief Fast Track 150, none of that mattered. Mosack paced the field during practice and then qualified fourth. Early in the race, as Venturini Motorsports teammates Love and Dean Thompson dueled for the lead, Mosack made a sweet three-wide pass for the lead, which earned him the Reese’s Sweet Move of the Race award.

While Mosack lost the lead, he retook it on lap 42 and never looked back. After accumulating four top fives and seven top 10s in 2021-2022, Mosack completed his part-time 2023 ARCA campaign with the best drive of his career en route to victory lane.

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5. Toni Breidinger

I was critical of Toni Breidinger last season, even naming her the Frontstretch 2022 ARCA Disappointment of the Year.

In 2023, she’s flipped a switch. She has three top fives – she entered 2023 with zero – and six top 10s equaling her 2022 total, which was when she ran full time. She also debuted in the Truck Series, and while she has only two top 20s, she’s driven cleanly, finishing all three races.

On Friday at Kansas, Breidinger smoothly kept plodding along, gaining positions as her foes encountered troubles. She stayed on the lead lap almost to the white flag.

Breidinger achieved her career-best performance of third place, in a sporty No. 55 paint scheme sponsored by Raising Cane’s.

Bristol hosts ARCA and Trucks for a Thursday (Sept. 14) doubleheader. The 200-lap ARCA race will take place 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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