Toyota has two of the top prospects in the sport in Jesse Love and Corey Heim. Both have dominated their respective racing series this season with Jesse Love in ARCA and Corey Heim in the Truck Series. The question is, which prospect has a higher ceiling?
Jesse Love made the ARCA Menards Series his personal playground this season. He is only 18 years old, and he won 10 out of 20 races with 17 top-5s and 18 top-10s. He also made two Craftsman Truck Series starts with his best finish being ninth at Gateway in his first career start.
The talent is obvious, but the caveat to Love is his competition level. The ARCA Menards Series is notorious for having very little parity, and Love is without question driving the top car in the series. He is in the bet equipment, but, he has done exactly what he was supposed to do in top-level equipment.
If a driver truly is a top-level talent, they better win races when their car is better than the others. That is exactly what Love did. From a pure talent standpoint, Love is a good driver. There is also an argument to be made that ARCA cars more closely resemble how Xfinity and Cup Series cars drive than Truck Series trucks. Could Love be well-prepared to be a driver in the Cup Series sooner than we may think?
Corey Heim has dominated the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series but in a different way than how Love has dominated ARCA. Heim has 19 top-10 finishes in 21 races including 12 top-5s and three wins. Heim dominated with consistency and kept his car on the race track.
He drives in good equipment, and he is doing it in much better competition than Love is. The consistency is there, and the ability to run up front while not wrecking race cars is a good quality for any race team. However, he is not in victory lane as much as Love is.
A lot of that is down to the competition level in the series, but Heim does not lead the series in wins, Carson Hocevar does. Wins mean everything in the sport nowadays, especially for the top race teams. Nowadays, teams like Hendrick Motorsports can afford drivers who wreck cars every once in a while, provided that they win races and, therefore, Championships.
Which is the Top Prospect?
Now, Heim is older, and he has more experience than Jesse Love has. However, Love has shown an ability to run up front and win races that Heim could not reach in his time at the same level. Toyota is a team with some big openings for 2024, and they are in need of top prospects.
Heim will stay in Trucks for 2024, but where will Jesse Love go? Could Love be a surprise candidate to take a Toyota Xfinity Series seat at Sam Hunt Racing or Joe Gibbs Racing? That would be unlikely considering how much older Heim is than Love, but Love’s options for 2024 are dwindling.
Does TRICON Garage have an option for Love to join in 2024? They would have to get rid of someone on their current roster in all likelihood, and it is not impossible for Love to spend one more year in ARCA given his age.
Ultimately, Love may have a higher ceiling, but his competition in the ARCA Series has to be factored in. Heim seems to be the most ready to jump up now, but he is not jumping up yet. Therefore, it may be a while before this question can be answered fully, but there are two exciting prospects in the Toyota camp.