In a season filled with dominance, it was only fitting that Jesse Love clinch the 2023 ARCA Menards Series championship by leading wire-to-wire in Saturday’s Atlas 200 at Salem Speedway, scoring his 10th victory of the season.
Love, driving the No. 20 JBL Toyota Camry for Venturini Motorsports, earned max points in Saturday’s penultimate event of the ARCA Menards Series campaign at the 0.555-mile short track in Salem, Indiana.
“Salem is my favorite asphalt short track for sure,” said the newly-crowned ARCA Menards Series champion. “It feels great to come here and win.”
The 18-year-old driver also dedicated the victory to Cayden Lapcevich, a crew chief for Venturini Motorsports this season, who recently lost his grandmother. Lapcevich, a former champion of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, was calling the shots for the No. 15 at Salem on Saturday, which was driven by Toni Breidinger.
Andres Perez de Lara, a rookie in the ARCA Menards Series for Rev Racing, finished in the runner-up position, albeit eight seconds behind eventual race-winner Jesse Love. The NASCAR Mexico Series competitor tied a career-best on Saturday with a strong run in Salem.
Christian Rose came home in third place, driving the No. 32 Ford Mustang for AM Racing, in which the Martinsburg, West Virginia native earned a career-best result, and his first-ever top-five in the ARCA Menards Series.
Toni Breidinger finished fourth in the No. 15 for Venturini Motorsports, her fourth top-five result in the ARCA Menards Series. Conner Popplewell completed the top-five finishers, making his series debut for MAN Motorsports.
Saturday’s 200-lap contest very much served as a battle of attrition for the ARCA Menards Series, as only 10 of 19 cars entered in the race were able to finish. William Sawalich, Frankie Muniz, Will Kimmel, and Zachary Tinkle all had their nights impacted by mid-race mechanical issues.
Sawalich, who alongside his Joe Gibbs Racing team are competing for the Owner’s Championship in the ARCA Menards Series, hit the outside wall early in the race while battling for the lead with Jesse Love.
Will Kimmel also showed some major speed throughout the race, battling Love and Sawalich at the start of the event, before a mechanical issue derailed the No. 69 Ford Mustang from a potential race-winning effort.
Muniz would be plagued by mechanical issues as well, again. This time with a stuck throttle leaving the Rette Jones Racing driver several laps down, but finishing in 10th-place, his first top-10 since Michigan.
In turn, several drivers scored better results on the night, including Jon Garrett who finished in seventh place. With Ed Pompa coming home in eighth, and Brayton Laster in ninth.
Up next, it’s the end of the road for the 2023 ARCA Menards Series Season as they travel to Toledo and the Shore Lunch 200. You can catch the race live on October 7th at 4:00 PM ET on FS2.
ARCA Menards Series – Atlas 200 at Salem Speedway – Race Results:
|4||15||Toni Breidinger||199||1 lap||Running||40|
|5||95||Conner Popplewell||198||2 laps||Running||39|
|6||18||William Sawalich||195||5 laps||Running||38|
|7||66||Jon Garrett||192||8 laps||Running||37|
|8||12||Ed Pompa||187||13 laps||Running||36|
|9||31||Brayton Laster||180||20 laps||Running||35|
|10||30||Frankie Muniz||119||81 laps||Running||34|
|11||11||Zachary Tinkle||116||84 laps||Mechanical||33|
|12||25||Brent Crews||104||96 laps||Running||32|
|13||69||Will Kimmel||103||97 laps||Mechanical||31|
|14||06||Kevin Hinkle||88||112 laps||Mechanical||30|
|15||03||Alex Clubb||45||155 laps||Mechanical||29|
|16||48||Brad Smith||19||181 laps||Mechanical||28|
|17||10||Tim Monroe||9||191 laps||Mechanical||27|
|18||68||Mike Basham||5||195 laps||Mechanical||26|
|19||0||Nate Moeller||4||196 laps||Mechanical||25|