Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Jesse Love Survives Double Overtime to Win at Talladega

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Redemption.

It may have taken two overtimes to get there and the stress of a fuel tank running dry, but Jesse Love is a winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, holding off the field to win Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega.

In the second race of the season at Atlanta, Love seemed destined to win, only to have his fuel tank run dry and snatch victory from his hands, but this time around, he had enough to see him through to the finish, holding off a pack of hungry drivers behind him to do so.

“Man, it’s been such a journey to get to this point,” Love said. “I just wanted it so bad. I had PTSD flashbacks to Atlanta and burned it to the ground. Huge thank you to the boys at ECR for bringing the most steam in the building. This is awesome…

“If I run out, then we run out. My team did a phenomenal job. We fought. I made some moves earlier, I was like ‘What are you doing, dummy? That was not smart’…. I was just kind of going back and forth between doing a good job and making dumb decisions.

“Toward the end, the bottom started rolling and I don’t even remember what happened. I’d be lying if I told you I remembered what happened. Just a phenomenal car.”

Shuffled out of the lead with two laps to go, Love was able to avoid his crashing RCR teammate Austin Hill spinning in front of him to line up third for the first overtime restart.

Ducking under Parker Kligerman on the restart to move to the lead, Love was out front when the caution flag flew for Kligerman and others crashing behind him to send the race to a second overtime.

With more than 50 laps since he last pitted, fuel was becoming more of a concern with each passing lap. It seemed that Love may have been in for a repeat of his Atlanta heartbreak.

However, the final restart went his way as he was able to get clear into the lead and while a car at the back of the field spun at the start, the race stayed green and they were able to make it back around to the white flag.

As the field reached the final lap, Love was facing a fierce charge from Leland Honeyman, also seeking his first career win, forcing Love to play just as much defense as he was playing offense for nearly the entirety of that final lap.

Charges from both Honeyman and Brennan Poole were held at bay, with Love keeping his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet out front – sometimes by only a nose.

With his challengers jockeying for position behind them, Love got the break he needed for a clear run to the finish, crossing the line to capture victory and redeem his heartbreak from Atlanta.

Riley Herbst would finish the race in second, 0.141 seconds behind Love, followed by Anthony Alfredo, Honeyman, Poole, Sheldon Creed, Caesar Bacarella, Matt DiBenedetto, Jeb Burton, and Cole Custer rounding out the top-10 finishers.

Hailie Deegan was in position to strike in the final overtime, but got shuffled out of the pack and dropped to 12th place – her best career Xfinity Series finish.

Ryan Sieg came home in 17th place, but walks away with a $100,000 payday after banking the Dash4Cash bonus. All but Sieg and A.J. Allmendinger crashed out of the race, leaving just those two to battle it out for the bonus check.

Both drivers had issues of their own late in the race, but Sieg was able to best Allmendinger by two positions to get the check.

Next weekend, the Xfinity Series season rolls on as they head to Dover Motor Speedway to take on the Monster Mile and continue the next round of the Dash4Cash.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.