Love & Perkins Shine Brightest In Utah

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Jesse Love earned his first ARCA Menards Series West win Saturday at the Utah Motorsports Campus. (ARCA Photo)
Jesse Love earned his first ARCA Menards Series West win Saturday at the Utah Motorsports Campus. (ARCA Photo)

TOOELE, Utah – Jesse Love and Blaine Perkins stepped into rides with long pedigrees of success this year and they both showed Saturday they have the racing skills to live up to the lofty standards.

In a unique doubleheader at Utah Motorsports Campus, the ARCA Menards Series West returned to racing with ENEOS/Sunrise Ford Twins presented by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

The results was a pair of first-time winners.

Love powered the No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota past Perkins on a early race restart en route to the win in the first 30-lap race. And then Perkins made sure Love never had a chance to do it again, as he paced the field for the entire 30 laps in the second race in the No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Four Star Fruit/Lucas Oil Ford.

Perkins also collected his first two career General Tire Pole Awards.

He earned the first in qualifying earlier in the day Saturday on the 2.2-mile road course.

But Love, who qualified third, quickly moved up to put pressure on Perkins. The 15-year-old from Menlo Park, California, used the outside groove on a Lap 8 restart to get around Perkins and take over the top spot.

Perkins wound up going off course late in the race, opening the door for Kris Wright — a road-course racer making his ARCA Menards debut — to grab a runner-up finish. Wright finished 1.54 seconds behind Love.

Love’s Bill McAnally Racing teammate Gio Scelzi finished third, followed by Taylor Gray and Will Rodgers. Todd Souza, Gracie Trotter, Brian Kaminsky, Holley Hollan and Bobby Hillis Jr. rounded out the top 10.

Perkins wound up 11th, but was able to quickly rebound. With the field for race two set by a driver’s fastest lap in race one, the 20-year-old from Bakersfield, California, collected his second pole of the day. Love also earned a front row starting spot. Perkins jumped out front at the start and never looked back, winning the second race by 9.398 seconds.

Wright finished third in the second race, followed by Scelzi. Perkins’ Sunrise Ford Racing teammate Trevor Huddleston rebounded from Race 1 issues to finished fifth.

Souza was sixth, followed by Trotter, Rodgers, Kaminsky and Hollan.

Love, who was second in the season opener, now has a nine-point lead in the championship race over Perkins. Scelzi is another nine points back in third, one ahead of Trotter and two in front of Souza.

The finishes:

Race One: Jesse Love, Kris Wright, Gio Scelzi, Taylor Gray, Will Rodgers, Todd Souza, Gracie Trotter, Brian Kaminsky, Holley Hollan, Bobby Hillis Jr., Blaine Perkins, Lawless Alan, Trevor Huddleston, Takuma Koga.

Race Two: Blaine Perkins, Jesse Love, Kris Wright, Gio Scelzi, Trevor Huddleston, Todd Souza, Gracie Trotter, Will Rodgers, Brian Kaminsky, Holley Hollan, Taylor Gray, Lawless Alan, Bobby Hillis Jr., Takuma Koga.