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How Much Does ARCA Success Really Matter?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

The ARCA Menards Series is where many NASCAR drivers get their first taste of professional racing. While it’s not an official NASCAR National Touring Series, it’s the first time many drivers race on bigger race tracks in different parts of the country. However, does success in the ARCA Menards Series lead to success in the Cup Series?

You Need to Know:

  • This year, Jesse Love dominated the ARCA Menards Series season with 10 wins. However, many pointed out that he was in far and away the best equipment on the grid. Do past Champions like Love fare well further up the pipeline?
  • The ARCA Menards Series was founded in 1953, and it maintained a loose connection to NASCAR for many years. NASCAR bought the series in 2018, and they took over full operation of the series in 2024.
  • Fans wonder how much value ARCA truly has nowadays. They point to the big gap between the top teams and the bottom teams.

Recent ARCA Champions in NASCAR

ARCA remained largely a separate racing series from NASCAR for most of its history, but, in recent years, it’s become a stepping stone for many into the world of NASCAR. Here is a list of all ARCA Menards Series Champions since 2008 who went on to race at least one full-time season in the Cup Series.

  • 2008: Justin Allgaier
  • 2011: Ty Dillon
  • 2012: Chris Buescher
  • 2016: Chase Briscoe
  • 2021: Ty Gibbs

That’s only 5 champions in 16 seasons (31.25%) with no previous Cup Series experience who later ran at least one full-time season. Now, that is a better ratio than the Truck Series (4/16 OR 25%), but it is far worse than the Xfinity Series (11/16 OR 68.75%).

Now, it might be unfair to include recent years because of how long it takes to move from ARCA to Cup for most drivers. Between 2008 and 2016, 4 of 9 (44%) Champions made their way to the Cup Series for at least one full-time season. That’s still a worse ratio than Xfinity (55.6%), but it is still better than Trucks (22.2%).

However, this point still rings true. Less than half of ARCA Champions make it to the Cup Series for even one full-time season. Even those that get to the Cup Series are not always great.

How ARCA Champions Perform in the Cup

Justin Allgaier: 0 Wins; 0 Top-5s; 1 Top-10; 17 Laps Led; in 2 Full-Time Seasons

Justin Allgaier moved up to the Cup Series with H-Scott Motorsports in 2014 and 2015, and it did not work. Since then, he has moved on to a respectable Xfinity Series career with JR Motorsports. He annually competes for wins and Championships in the series

Ty Dillon: 0 Wins; 2 Top-5s; 7 Top-10s; 83 Laps Led in 6 Full-Time Seasons

Ty Dillon’s career has failed to pan out since he joined the Cup Series. His career tanked in 2023 with his worst season yet. Of all full-time Cup Series drivers in 2023, he finished dead last in the points standings, and, he is currently without a ride for 2024.

Chris Buescher: 5 Wins; 19 Top-5s; 55 Top-10s; 606 Laps Led in 8 Full-Time Seasons

Chris Buescher had to go through some adversity, but he’s carved out a nice Cup Series career for himself. He also won an Xfinity Series Championship in 2015. 2023 was his best season yet in the Cup Series, and the sky seems to be the limit for Buescher.

Chase Briscoe: 1 Win; 10 Top-5s; 21 Top-10s; 482 Laps Led in 3 Full-Time Seasons

Chase Briscoe had a down year in 2023, but he won his first career race in 2022. He also nearly made the Championship 4 that year, so, it’s unfair to judge him based on a subpar 2023. He’s shown flashes of talent, and it will be interesting to see how he does in 2024.

Ty Gibbs: 0 Wins; 4 Top-5s; 11 Top-10s; 112 Laps Led in 1 Full-Time Season

Ty Gibbs impressed in 2023. While he did not make the Playoffs, he showed flashes of his driving talent. He also kept himself out of controversy in 2023, which he struggled to do in the Xfinity Series. It seems a few Cup Series wins are in his future.

Overall: 6 Wins; 35 Top-5s, 95 Top-10s; 1,300 Laps Led in 20 Full-Time Seasons

Overall, that’s a decent Cup Series resume, but it’s nowhere near Hall of Fame caliber. None of these drivers have won a Cup Series Championship yet.

It is worth noting that the prospects generally get better as time goes on. Ty Gibbs is more highly touted than Justin Allgaier or Ty Dillon ever were, and Chris Buescher looks like a potential 2024 Cup Series Championship contender. Jesse Love can keep that trend alive.

However, it does show that success in ARCA does not always mean success in the Cup Series. Love is a highly-touted prospect, and deservedly so. However, the lack of ARCA Champions in the Cup Series shows that no driver is a “Sure thing”.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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