Jesse Love battles exhaustion and rivals at Michigan International Speedway for his sixth ARCA Menards Series victory in the Henry Ford Health 200.
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Jesse Love entered Friday’s Henry Ford Health 200 having won five races in 2023, easily the most in the ARCA Menards Series this year.
Love Battles Exhaustion, and Rivals at Michigan for His Sixth ARCA Menards Series Victory
The ARCA championship points leader’s sixth victory came in arguably the most chaotic — and, in his case, exhausting — event of the season.
Love, the 18-year-old Venturini Motorsports driver from Menlo Park, California, won Friday evening’s race at Michigan International Speedway thanks to a perfect launch on an overtime restart. Despite strong efforts from his VMS teammate Gus Dean and his Joe Gibbs Racing rival Connor Mosack, Love held on for the victory in an event that was defined by madness.
“Just a lot of good guys around us,” a spent Love said, referring to his Venturini team. “Lost our cool suit, lost the helmet blower, feet blower went out from the heat you get. Just everything.
“I feel like I’m in pretty good shape. I go on runs with my dog Buck every day. … But I’m definitely worn out.”
Jesse Love versus Connor Mosack and Andres Perez de Lara
Between Love, Mosack, and Rev Racing’s Andres Perez de Lara, there was no telling throughout the Henry Ford Health 200 who would emerge victorious. Perez started on the General Tire Pole and led his share of laps. Mosack started at the back of the pack, but with the fastest car on track — he set the race’s best lap time at 39.233 seconds — he had no trouble working through the field and running up front.
As always, Love also was strong throughout the race. He displayed his speed with multiple astute restarts, none more crucial than the final green flag.
Love’s sixth win of the 2023 season marked the two-time West Series champion’s eighth victory in the ARCA Menards (national) Series dating back to 2021. Those eight wins have come at eight different tracks.
“I’ve got a phenomenal crew chief in Shannon Rursch who just makes my job really easy. And Billy Venturini gives us all the resources we need.”
The Battle Begins
Friday’s Michigan havoc began on lap 27 when rookie Frankie Muniz bounced off of Jake Finch coming off the second turn. The contact resulted in a flat tire for Muniz and the event’s first yellow flag.
On a lap 41 restart, despite a strong launch by the leader Love, Perez de Lara took the lead with a pass on the inside in the third and fourth turns of the two-mile oval. He kept that lead until he was forced to pit for fuel with fewer than 30 laps to go.
That’s when the mayhem level increased
With Love and Mosack drag racing on a restart with 25 laps to go, Dean made a massive move to the bottom of the third and fourth turns and passed both cars. But he didn’t hold the point for long.
With 23 laps to go, Mosack slid under Dean entering the first turn and got loose. His move up the race track collected Dean, but both drivers kept their cars pointing forward. With everybody in front of him forced to check up, Perez re-took the lead.
Mosack, though, got back to Perez and made the pass for the top spot with 11 laps to go. Shortly after, Perez was forced out of the race with a mechanical issue. He finished 17th.
Mosack was the leader during the fifth caution of the race (fluid from Perez’s car), but on a restart with one lap to go, he slipped as he was pushed by Kris Wright, allowing Love to take the lead cleanly.
A crash behind the leaders drew the race’s final caution, which set up Love’s race-winning restart.
Dean finished second ahead of Mosack in third. Andy Jankowiak, who displayed race-winning speed in his family-owned No. 73, set a new career best with his fourth-place run.
Muniz also recorded a new career high. He rebounded from his early accident to finish fifth.
Morgen Baird, Christian Rose, Cody Coughlin, Gage Rodgers, and Jon Garrett finished sixth through tenth, respectively.
Friday’s Henry Ford Health 200 featured six cautions, including two that were scheduled.
The ARCA Menards Series returns to action next Friday (Aug. 11) at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for a combination race with the ARCA Menards Series East. The Reese’s 200 is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET.
Live coverage of the Reese’s 200 will be shown on FS1 with a live stream available on the Fox Sports App. A radio broadcast of the race will be available on MRN / SiriusXM (XM channel 391, online channel 981).