Race Weekend Central

ARCA Power Rankings: No Surprise Jesse Love Is First

In the four times the ARCA Menards Series has visited Bristol Motor Speedway, the yellow flag flew frequently. In the 2023 edition, it waved 10 times, with 83 of the 200 laps in the race under the caution flag.

Bristol hosted the final ARCA combination race with the ARCA Menards Series East. For the third straight year, the No. 18 team went to victory lane, this time with William Sawalich.

Sawalich won the race for his third national division win and his fourth of the East season. Sawalich also clinched the East championship.

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William Sawalich Wins Race, East Championship at Bristol

While Sawalich was victorious at Bristol, he still trails main series points leader Jesse Love in the Frontstretch ARCA power rankings. Mark Kristl has more on these two as well as the other fastest three in this week’s power rankings.

1. Jesse Love

Love led the most laps, finished second at a racetrack Venturini Motorsports has never won at before, and will likely clinch the 2023 national division championship at Salem Speedway.

For those reasons, as well as his season-long performance, he stays in first.

Enough said.

2. William Sawalich

Sawalich won four of the eight races in the 2023 East season for a winning percentage of 50%. Pretty stout.

Sawalich could’ve and arguably should’ve won two more East races too.

He led 202 of the 205 laps at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville before a caution occurred before he took the checkered flag. Because ARCA rules differ from NASCAR, the race was required to finish under green flag conditions. As a result, the field re-racked for overtime. On the restart, Luke Fenhaus pounced to lead the final two laps en route to win, leaving Sawalich in second.

Fast forward two races to Iowa Speedway. Sawalich was dominant again, leading 154 of the 156 laps. Late race caution, restart, Fenhaus aced the restart and Sawalich again was a bridesmaid.

At Bristol, Sawalich wound up in a different scenario. Love led 158 of the 200 laps, but a late-race restart gave Sawalich a shot to steal the win. Finally, he capitalized on a restart to snatch the win, taking home two trophies in the process.

3. Andres Perez de Lara

Andres Perez de Lara made his series debut in the 2022 race at Bristol, finishing seventh after starting 16th. One year later, he finished third, trailing Love and Sawalich, the top two in these power rankings.

Perez de Lara’s strength this season has been qualifying. Only three times has he started outside the top 10, including the season opener at Daytona International Speedway when he was underage and therefore unable to compete.

In the races, Perez de Lara has the second-most top 10s, third-most top fives and fourth-most laps led. Average out those three stats and what do you get? Perez de Lara’s position in the power rankings: third.

4. Christian Rose

Christian Rose is third in points and has earned that position by just running laps. He has completed 2,151 laps this season, most of all ARCA competitors. He only has two DNFs, one at Phoenix Raceway due to a crash and one at the Illinois State Fairgrounds due to overheating. Although he has led only six laps this season with zero top fives, Rose has been consistent this season with 11 top-10 finishes.

His eighth-place result at Bristol is his third straight top 10. Rose’s performance in the No. 32 earns him fourth place in these power rankings. If he achieves his first top five and or overtakes Perez de Lara for second in points, Rose will likely climb higher in the power rankings too.

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5. Greg Van Alst

Greg Van Alst started off the 2023 season blazing hot with an emotional first career victory at Daytona followed by a 10th-place result at Phoenix, a race where he would’ve finished higher if not for losing positions on the late-race restart.

At Talladega Superspeedway, Van Alst crashed out, but a 10th-place run at Kanas Speedway had him fourth in points, 17 markers back.

Then the bottom fell out of his season. After a hard crash at Charlotte Motor Speedway thanks to contact from Connor Mosack and a tragedy within his personal life, Van Alst opted to run part time in ARCA.

Although Van Alst’s national NASCAR series career has been off to a horrendous struggle with five DNFs in six starts, his last two ARCA starts have been back on par with the beginning of his season.

He came home seventh at his home racetrack Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. At Bristol, he then wound up fifth, his second top five of the season, and the fourth of his ARCA career, to boot.

Van Alst’s return to success in ARCA competition brought him back into the Frontstretch ARCA power rankings.

Only a pair of races remain in the 2023 ARCA season. Salem hosts ARCA for the Atlas 200 on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 4 p.m. ET, with coverage provided by FS2 and FloRacing.

About the author

Frontstretch.com
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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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