SALEM, Ind. — With only one race left in this ARCA Menards Series season, drivers and teams are looking ahead to 2022. In ARCA silly season, there are a few known pairings, still many questions, and those hopeful of running a full-time schedule.
Ty Gibbs essentially has won the ARCA championship this year, and he presumably is moving up full-time to the NASCAR Xfinity Series next year. Joe Gibbs Racing won the owners’ championship last year and likely this year, and with the TRD pipeline, the team may continue that trend next year.
It was previously reported Gibbs would split the No. 18 with Sammy Smith until Smith turns 18 on June 4. However, at Salem Speedway, a JGR spokesperson told Frontstretch he does not think Gibbs will compete in ARCA next year.
“We are still in the process of working through our plans for the ARCA series in 2022, so I’m not prepared to confirm anything at this time,” the spokesperson said.
Smith won the ARCA Menards Series East championship last month, capping it off with a second-place finish in the ARCA and ARCA East combination race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) September 17, 2021
“Probably just run all the ARCA races I can in the No. 18 car with Mark [McFarland, the crew chief],” Smith told Racing News Now. “I’ll probably miss a couple just cause of my age but probably just run as many as I can to get as much experience as I can. I’ll probably run both ARCA and ARCA East. I feel pretty good about it.”
The other ARCA Toyota team, Venturini Motorsports, has both answers and questions about its driver lineup for next year. Corey Heim is second in the points, but his future publicly is unknown. Heim told Frontstretch he knows his plans for next year, but he cannot reveal them yet. During the Salem race though, MAVTV may have reported his plans.
— Joseph Srigley (@joe_srigley) October 3, 2021
Of the other drivers in the Venturini camp, sources have confirmed to Frontstretch that Gracie Trotter will return to the organization, but her schedule is unclear. She joined the team this year for a part-time campaign and has reeled off two top fives, with a career-best finish of third place at Elko Speedway, and five top 10s. Her father, Tony Trotter, owns Calico Coatings, a sponsor on her car this year, so she brings funding.
WE DID IT! First National @ARCA_Racing Win in the books! All our work all year long finally paid off! Thank you @VenturiniMotor, @ToyotaRacing, @Mobil1, @coolcatsnft and everyone else who made this possible! Let’s goooo! ??#TeamToyota #LetsGoPlaces #FlyTheV #Mobil1 #CoolCats pic.twitter.com/bkzvsCmiO9
— Jesse Love Racing (@JesseLoveRacing) October 3, 2021
Love also won the ARCA Menards Series West title last year and leads the West points this year. Only 16 years old, Love is ineligible to compete on the larger tracks on the ARCA circuit. As a result, he is limited to competing in the races at the smaller ones, such as those on the ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief Showdown schedule.
Even if Love wins the West title this year, he will not go for three in a row in 2022. Yep, he confirmed to Frontstretch he will not be running the full West slate, and while he expects to run main ARCA races next year, he does not know his schedule.
On the Chevrolet side of the ARCA garage, Rev Racing already announced it will field two full-time entries next year for Rajah Caruth and Nick Sanchez. Sanchez has run most of the ARCA races this year and Caruth ran ARCA East full-time.
Next year should be an improvement for the team, Sanchez believes. Currently tied for the third-most top fives this year, albeit without a win, Sanchez has driven the No. 2 without manufacturer support, something Rev Racing will receive in 2022.
“It’ll level the playing field,” Sanchez told Frontstretch. “Hopefully, I’ll get a win.”
“We’re building a pretty good foundation for next year,” Caruth told Frontstretch. “The goal is to run all the laps and keep learning. I would love to be upfront and be competitive, but I do not want to rush anything because I am still very inexperienced compared to the people I am racing against. Hopefully, that means running up front and leading laps, but if not, that’s ok as long as I’m not tearing up race cars or running near the back.”
GMS Racing is the other Chevrolet-backed ARCA program. Former ARCA team owner Chad Bryant joined the team this year, and he has guided the team’s No. 21 to one win, four top fives and nine top 10s in 14 events. Bryant confirmed he will be back with GMS in ARCA next year.
GMS should announce its ARCA driver for next year soon.
“It’ll be someone familiar with the organization,” Bryant told Frontstretch.
Who else will be a regular sight in the ARCA field next year? Brad Smith confirmed he will return, only 16 career starts shy of 400. Smith praised the ARCA ABC program, aka start money, saying it makes 30% of his yearly budget.
Will Kimmel and Scott Melton will continue to pair up to field the No. 69 next year. Kimmel earned the best finish of this season at Salem, fourth, and they have a combined four top-10 finishes. Why do they work together?
“It’s where we’re at and want to be,” Kimmel said.
At Michigan International Speedway earlier this season, Greg Van Alst told Frontstretch he will compete in ARCA again next year. According to sources, Van Alst intends to run full-time, though he only said his schedule is dependent on funding.
After his wreck at Michigan sidelined him for the year, Tim Richmond will be back racing ARCA next year in likely 10-12 races. His family-owned team has run full-time this year, and they would like to continue to do so next year. Nineteen-year-old Zachary Tinkle has filled in as the driver in Richmond’s absence, and both Tinkle and Richmond are hopeful that Tinkle will fill out the balance of the 2022 schedule for the team. Ideally, Tinkle wants to run full-time next year, splitting the season driving for Richmond and Wayne Peterson.
As the 2022 ARCA season opener approaches, more announcements about the ARCA driver lineup will be released, but 2022 should crown the 16th straight different ARCA champion.
About the author
Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.
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