Late Strategy Call Lifts Love To Richmond Top-Five

Love

Jesse Love (Rusty Jarrett/NKP photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – It wasn’t necessarily flashy, but Jesse Love snagged his third consecutive top-six finish Saturday during the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway.

Love, who qualified eighth but spent most of the first half of the race battling just outside the top 10 at the three-quarter-mile oval, benefited from late-race pit strategy to carve his way through the field.

After a lap-173 caution flag led to differing plans of attack among the frontrunners, crew chief Danny Stockman made the decision to bring Love down pit road for a fresh set of Goodyear tires.

The hope in the call was that the green flag would endure to the end of the race, allowing Love to work his way forward past other drivers who elected to stay out in hopes of an even later yellow flag coming out.

Fortunately for Love, the final 67 laps ran uninterrupted, allowing the 19-year-old from Menlo Park, Calif., to methodically work his way up to fifth during the closing stages of the 250-lap race.

While he didn’t earn any stage points Saturday, Love did earn 32 points for his finishing position, allowing him to maintain fourth place in the Xfinity Series’ regular-season standings.

He also qualified for a berth in the first race of the annual Dash 4 Cash program, which begins April 6 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and pays out a $100,000 bonus to the highest finishing of the four eligible drivers.

“Our No. 2 Whelen team had a good day. We struggled mid-race, but all the guys on my Richard Childress Racing team kept digging to find a way to end with a decent day,” said Love. “We certainly did that. We tried some things, and it didn’t quite work out for us, but Danny (Stockman) made a phenomenal pit call at the end to take tires which propelled us to fifth.

“It’s a pleasure to drive this Whelen Chevrolet and I’m grateful for everyone who supports our team. We will give it our best shot in the Dash 4 Cash next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.”

Love will battle Richmond winner Chandler Smith, former NASCAR Cup Series veteran Aric Almirola, and Xfinity Series full-timer Parker Kligerman at Martinsville for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash check.

The Xfinity Series schedule resumes Saturday, April 6 at Martinsville’s half-mile paper clip with the running of the DUDE Wipes 250, where John Hunter Nemechek is the reigning event winner.

It will mark Love’s first-ever start at Martinsville in one of NASCAR’s three national series.

Coverage of the DUDE Wipes 250 is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.