Three young drivers put together incredible seasons on the ARCA Menards Series platform in 2023 that earned them not only championships, but also the honor of being recognized as Bounty Rookie Challenge winners.
The Bounty Rookie Challenge represents the rookie of the year award on the ARCA Menards platform, with one winner awarded for each of the three series. Unlike overall championship points, rookie points in the ARCA Menards Series are awarded strictly on a driver’s finishing position in each race.
Each ARCA Menards division, the ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, awards an overall Bounty Rookie Challenge award at the end of the season.
Below are the winners for all three series in 2023.
ARCA Menards Series Bounty Rookie of the Year: Jesse Love
Jesse Love’s first full season of ARCA Menards Series competition was one for the record books.
Love, driving the No. 20 Toyota for Venturini Motorsports, dominated the series on his way to the championship and the Bounty Rookie of the Year award.
The 18-year-old from Menlo Park, California, drove to 10 victories during the 20-race season. He also secured 17 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes. His wins came at a variety of race tracks, including Talladega Superspeedway, Elko Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Watkins Glen International and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, just to name a few.
In addition, Love also earned seven General Tire Pole Awards, four of which he converted into trips to Victory Lane.
The 2023 ARCA Menards Series championship for Love comes after the California native captured back-to-back ARCA Menards Series West championships while driving for Bill McAnally Racing in 2020-21.
His incredible season earned Love a promotion in 2024, as he will move to Richard Childress Racing to compete full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
ARCA Menards Series East Bounty Rookie of the Year: William Sawalich
Despite entering the 2023 season with no ARCA platform experience, William Sawalich quickly got up to speed.
Sawalich, driving the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, won four of eight races on his way to the ARCA Menards Series East championship and the ARCA Menards Series East Bounty Rookie of the Year Award.
The 16-year-old from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, flexed his muscles during the 2023 campaign by never finishing worse than fourth during the ARCA Menards Series East season. He scored victories at Five Flags Speedway, Flat Rock Speedway, the Milwaukee Mile and Bristol Motor Speedway, with the win at Bristol sealing his first championship.
Sawalich also scored victories in the ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series West. In 13 ARCA Menards Series starts, Sawalich won four times, with two of those victories coming in combination events with the ARCA Menards Series East. He also won the season finale for the ARCA Menards Series West at Phoenix Raceway in November.
Still nearly two years away from being able to run a full schedule in any of NASCAR’s three national divisions, William Sawalich figures to be a mainstay on the ARCA Menards platform in 2024.
ARCA Menards Series West Bounty Rookie of the Year: Sean Hingorani
The 2023 ARCA Menards Series West season proved to be a breakout year for 17-year-old Sean Hingorani.
The driver from Newport Beach, California secured his first ARCA Menards Series West championship as well as the the ARCA Menards Series West Bounty Rookie of the Year Award. He did so in convincing fashion.
Driving the No. 15 Toyota for Venturini Motorsports, Hingorani won four of 12 races in West Series competition in addition to seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes. His victories came at Irwindale Speedway, Shasta Speedway, Kern County Raceway Park and Evergreen Speedway. He also earned two General Tire Pole Awards.
His triumph at Evergreen, his fourth and final of the 2023 season, was particularly impressive. He started second and took the lead on Lap 56 from polesitter Tyler Reif before leading a race-high 95 laps on his way to Victory Lane. It was the most laps he led during an event all season.
In addition to his success in the West Series, Hingorani also competed in the ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series East. In the ARCA Menards Series, he made nine starts and scored a best finish of third on five occasions while also earning the General Tire Pole Award at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In East Series competition, he made seven starts, scoring a best finish of third four times while securing the General Tire Pole Award at Flat Rock Speedway.