SALEM, Ind. — Evidence of Jesse Love’s dominance in the ARCA Menards Series in 2023 lies in the fact that he clinched the championship before even starting the penultimate race of the season at Salem Speedway.
Of course, there are plenty more figures that represent the stranglehold the Venturini Motorsports driver had on the series throughout his rookie campaign.
Love, the 18-year-old from Menlo Park, California, finished Race 19 of 20 on the ARCA Menards Series schedule having won 10 of 19 events. He’s scored 16 top fives and 17 top-10 finishes in those 19 races, leading a series-high 1,388 laps in the process.
Love, of course, is a two-time ARCA Menards Series West champion. And his first year racing in ARCA’s national series proved to be his best yet on the platform.
This despite a slow start to the season.
Love opened the year finishing seventh and 27th at Daytona International Speedway and Phoenix Raceway, respectively, because of racing incidents. The Phoenix crash knocked him out of the race after 83 of 160 laps.
At Talladega Superspeedway in April, though, Love found his groove. He took the checkered flag in his second superspeedway race and proceeded to win the next two events — at Kansas Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway in May — to put together a three-race win streak.
Love logged a heartbreaking, second-place finish to Joe Gibbs Racing’s William Sawalich at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway in June before returning to Victory Lane the next week at Minnesota’s Elko Speedway.
Love reeled off a couple more top-five runs (fourth at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and third at Iowa Speedway) before going on his best streak of the year. He won four consecutive races — at Pocono Raceway, Michigan International Speedway, Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and Watkins Glen International — stretching into August.
Prior to Love’s win Saturday at Salem Speedway, his most recent victory to date came at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois, where he picked up his first ARCA win on dirt.
Love’s ARCA Menards Series championship adds to his already-impressive resume on the platform. He has five West Series wins and one East Series triumph in addition to that pair of West Series titles. Now he has a dominant national series season on his record.