For the 18th straight season, the ARCA Menards Series will crown a new champion.
Jesse Love won the 2023 title en route to landing a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series ride with Richard Childress Racing, so he will not be able to defend the ARCA crown.
The 20-race ARCA season begins at Daytona International Speedway and wraps up at Toledo Speedway. The only schedule change from last year is Dover Motor Speedway will host the national series for the first time.
Ahead of the Feb. 17 season opener, four ARCA experts — including three from Frontstretch — made their predictions on the champion, their bold takes and more.
Who will win the driver’s championship? Will Venturini Motorsports continue to dominate?
Mark Kristl: This championship will come down to the two Rev Racing drivers with Lavar Scott winning the title. In the six short track races in the 2023 ARCA Menards Series East season, Scott accrued four top fives and five top 10s. In his six national series starts, he also had four top fives and five top 10s, including an impressive fourth-place showing at Daytona.
Other than Jake Finch and Gus Dean, no other announced VMS driver has shown regular contention. Kris Wright might win a race simply due to superior equipment, but VMS will not be winning as often. Neither Toni Breidinger nor Amber Balcaen have been in contention for a win before, and I don’t foresee that happening this year either.
Ben Branscum, TobyChristie.com ARCA writer: This year, it is more up in the air than years prior. Yes, VMS is still the powerhouse that everyone knows it to be, with a solid group. However, there are some feelings of questions around the team.
Wright is looking for a renaissance after a tough stint in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and the same goes for Balcaen after a tough 2022 season and only running three races in 2023. Breidinger brings the most veteran experience of the drivers, having 45 starts in ARCA and coming off a strong end to her 2023 season.
While I think VMS is going to put up a good fight, I have a feeling that Rev is going to seize the moment with Andres Perez de Lara. While having three DNFs in his first full season in the series, he managed to score 10 top fives with an average finish of 8.5 and came home second in points. I truly think this could be his breakout year.
Josh Calloni: Perez de Lara will be crowned champion at Toledo at the season’s end. The soon-to-be 19-year-old kept pace…