Prospecting: Jesse Love to Xfinity with RCR

Jesse Love has been very good in ARCA. His percentage of laps led this season is good enough for the second best season in his lifetime (since 2005) - only Ty Gibbs in 2021 did better. He's got the most wins in an ARCA season in his lifetime.

Going to the advanced numbers, his eARP this season is fourth best all time. He's put up good - but not great, not elite - PFAEs in his time there. The PFAEs not being as mind blowing as everything else is a front runner problem. Some recent laps led % kings and their PFAEs:

Chandler Smith 2019 16 38.3 3.481
Ty Gibbs 2020 17 44.09 2.47
Ty Gibbs 2021 18 64.54 2.646
Sammy Smith 2022 17 46.65 2.277
Jesse Love 2023 18 56.04 1.985

The ARCA giants tend to put up lower PFAEs than their Cup %LL leader counterparts. ARCA's a much more stratified series than Cup, with the winners always winning. Once you get out of the top 3-5 drivers, you're not looking at very competitive cars.

Driver Season Age %LL PFAE
Kyle Busch 2019 33 15.56 7.129
Kevin Harvick 2020 44 15.45 6.691
Kyle Larson 2021 28 28.68 4.494
Chase Elliott 2022 26 9.71 2.951
Kyle Larson 2023 30 13.87 0.495

My concern with Love is he's on the low end of the elite in ARCA's recent, increasingly talent-barren history, and he's there at 18. The drivers above all did it at 17. To be fair to him, he's a January birthday (Gibbs is October, the Smiths are June), but all the above leaves me thinking he's likely in the bottom half of the current group of top 18-20 year olds (Ty Gibbs, Sammy Smith, Sam Mayer, Corey Heim, Chandler Smith). That being said, that's a talented group and the sample of meaningful racing remains small for Love.

Love is moving to Chevrolet from Toyota, and bypassing the truck series to go straight to Xfinity. In all likelihood, his 2024 will be a year of adaptation as 2021 and 2022 were for Sam Mayer and this year has been for Sammy Smith. After 2025 we'll have a better idea of his true prospects. Until then, Love is an exciting young talent with high upside.

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