NASCAR: Saturday’s Talladega race will make you feel old

Frankie Muniz, Rette Jones Racing, ARCA, Talladega, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Frankie Muniz, Rette Jones Racing, ARCA, Talladega, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle is now the points leader in the ARCA Menards Series after Saturday afternoon’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Frankie Muniz, an actor who is best known for playing the title character in Fox sitcom Malcolm in the Middle from 2000 to 2006, decided to try something new in 2023. He landed a full-time ride with Rette Jones Racing to drive the No. 30 Ford in the ARCA Menards Series.

After the first three races of the 2023 season, the 37-year-old Wood-Ridge, New Jersey native finds himself leading the point standings.

Consistency has been key for Muniz, who finished Saturday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway in ninth place to move from second to the top of the standings, passing Daytona International Speedway race winner Greg Van Alst.

Muniz opened up the season with an 11th place finish at Daytona International Speedway and followed that up with a career-high sixth place finish at Phoenix Raceway.

There is still a long way to go, with 20 races on this year’s schedule, but the rookie ARCA Menards Series driver is off to a good start.

Of the 66 drivers who have entered at least one of the three races so far this year, just 12 have competed in all three, and just seven drivers are currently lined up to compete in every race. After groups of five races, drivers who compete in all five races receive 50 additional points.

Sitting in second place overall — but more importantly, among the seven full-time drivers — is Talladega Superspeedway race winner Jesse Love, the 18-year-old Menlo Park, California native who was more than five years from being born when Muniz debuted in Malcolm in the Middle. He trails Muniz by just three points.

Love, the 2020 and 2021 ARCA Menards Series West champion with Bill McAnally Racing, competes for Venturini Motorsports behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota. He competed part-time last year for the team and earned eight top five finishes, including a win at Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack. He also won a race at Salem Speedway for the organization in 2021.

Van Alst now sits in third place in the standings, 13 points behind Muniz. Phoenix Raceway winner Tyler Reif is not a full-time driver and sits in 21st place, having competed in only one race.

While known for being an actor, Muniz’s venture into stock car racing is not his first experience in the world of motor racing.

He competed in the Atlantic Championship for three seasons back from 2007 to 2009. In the 2009 season, when he competed for Team Stargate Worlds, he scored nine straight top 10 finishes, including a career-high fourth place finish at Utah Motorsports Campus. He didn’t compete in the final three races of the season but finished in ninth in the standings.

Muniz, who has played dozens of other roles on the screen over the years and earned several awards for his acting, stated earlier this year that he would rather be known for being a race car driver, and his start to the 2023 season has proven that his focus is in a great position to make that happen.

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The fourth race on the 2023 ARCA Menards Series schedule, the Dutch Boy 150, is scheduled to take place at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, May 6. The NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Truck Series are also set to run at the track during the weekend.