Following a nail-biting finish to Saturday’s Berlin ARCA 200 at Berlin Raceway, there is clearly some animosity in the ARCA Menards Series garage between a pair of Toyota-supported organizations.
At the conclusion of the 200-lap contest, Jesse Love ended up losing out on securing his fourth consecutive win in the ARCA Menards Series, after getting passed by William Sawalich coming to the white flag.
The pass for the victory, which came as a result of Love catching some lapped traffic at an inopportune time, was completed by the Joe Gibbs Racing driver with a kiss to the left-rear bumper of the No. 20 Toyota Camry.
Love would still score a strong second-place finish, and extend his lead in the ARCA Menards Series point standings over Frankie Muniz, but after dominating Saturday’s event, those positives aren’t any consolation.
Understandably disappointed by the result, the Menlo Park, California native had quite a bit to say about the race’s closing laps, as well as the driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry, just moments after Sawalich described the move as “a little more dirty than I wanted’.
“I’m glad there is some accountability, but I’ve been raced by the No. 18 really dirty in a lot of different races throughout my ARCA career, so I’m going to ballpark him every chance I get,” said Love. “So, I don’t care. I’ve been racing this for three years.”
“To lead 199 – I thought I had a ten-car-length gap, just try to keep the nose on it and not do anything stupid with those lapped cars, and then all of the sudden, I’m ass-packed lifted up into three,” continued Love. “So you know, I gotta set an example to kids that come in and run people over – we’ve all been there. But I’ve been run into by people before and not done anything about it, so they’re going to be building a lot of racecars.”
After the checkered flag, Love, competing for the championship this season with Venturini Motorsports, appeared to show his displeasure to Sawalich, getting into the side of the No. 18 on the backstretch after the checkered flag.
“I was just running the apron trying to get by him, and I don’t know, lack of self-awareness – on his part,” Love said. “So, whatever, it wasn’t intentional. Just frustrating – and I’m sure he won’t come to say anything to me or anything like that, so add salt to the wound, but we’ll make up for it down the road.”
Only six events into the ARCA Menards Series season, Jesse Love holds a 20-point advantage over Frankie Muniz in the point standings – a comfortable but not rock-solid lead.
However, the 18-year-old driver could easily see that advantage evaporate, and should be run into a couple of issues throughout the year, issues which could come as a result of him seeking payback that he has deemed much-needed.
…and for the record, Love’s teammate Sean Hingorani – who has raced against William Sawalich in the ARCA Menards Series East – agrees with the notion that the driver of the No. 20 Toyota has put forward, saying post-race “everybody is getting sick of the way he’s driving.”