Jesse Love captures first Xfinity win in double overtime at Talladega

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA - APRIL 20: Jesse Love, driver of the #2 WAT Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 20, 2024 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Jesse Love earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday in a typically wild double overtime finish in the Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway – crossing the line by a slight .141-seconds ahead of Riley Herbst.

It many ways, it was victorious redemption for the 19-year old Californian, who earlier this season was leading the race in overtime at Atlanta only to run out of fuel before the checkered flag. Love’s win in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet makes him only the seventh driver to score his maiden win at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.

“Just a great group of guys [on my team] and it’s been such a journey to get to this point,’’ a grinning Love said before thanking a litany of people that helped him in his young career to date.

“I had PTSD flashbacks from Atlanta,’’ Love acknowledged, adding “I love Talladega. I love the speedway and I love the fans.”

Love certainly earned this first win – starting on the outside of the front row next to his veteran RCR teammate Austin Hill, winning his fourth stage of the season (Stage 1) and leading 28 of the 124 laps. He ran top-five for most of the afternoon and when he needed to go on that final restart, he went. Jumping to the lead at the overtime green flag and holding off the field when it mattered most.

His RCR teammate Hill, the polesitter, led a race-best 42 laps and was out front with two laps remaining in regulation when he was hit from behind by Parker Kligerman. The incident sent Hill’s car into the wall and ultimately collected nine cars, including many that had been running toward the front much of the afternoon – putting the race in overtime.

On the ensuing overtime restart, Kligerman was eliminated in a four-car crash at the front as various cars started running out of gas in the field. Love lined up on the front row for the final restart among eight drivers racing for their career first wins.

Herbst’s runner-up finish in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was his best showing of the year. Our Motorsports Anthony Alfredo finished third, followed by Young’s Motorsports rookie Leland Honeyman and Alpha Prime Racing’s Brennan Poole. Alfredo tied his career best mark and Honeyman had a career best finish.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sheldon Creed, Alpha Prime Racing’s Caesar Bacarella, Viking Motorsports’s Matt DiBenedetto, 2023 Talladega winner, Jordan Anderson Racing’s Jeb Burton and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer rounded out the top 10.

There were 34 lead changes among 16 drivers in a typically Talladega afternoon.

Ryan Sieg, who lost to Sam Mayer last week at Texas Motor Speedway in a photo finish – by .002-seconds – won the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus.

An 11-car accident on Lap 65 proved critical to several race frontrunners as well as Dash 4 Cash eligible drivers.

Herbst hit Justin Allgaier’s No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevy with only two laps left in the opening stage – both vying for a top 10 and some early stage points. It eliminated Allgaier from contention. Mayer was eliminated in a later multi-car crash and that left an intriguing battle between Sieg, who had to make a green flag late race pit stop because of a flat tire and A.J. Allmendinger, whose car was damaged in a crash.

Sieg and Allmendinger lined up 19th and 20th – respectively – on the second overtime re-start and Sieg was able to pull away, finishing 17th with Allmendinger 19th.

“This is huge for our team,’’ Sieg said. “It was a rough one. I thought I threw it away, but were lucky enough to get the caution at the end and come back and beat the 16. So it all worked out and is pretty extraordinary for our small team.”

Not only does he win the Dash 4 Cash paycheck, but Sieg will compete against Love, Herbst and Alfredo next week at Dover, Del. for the final race of the incentive program.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Chandler Smith, who finished 25th, still holds a 14-point lead over Custer atop the championship standings.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series moves to the one-mile Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway next week for Saturday’s BetRivers 200 (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Ryan Truex is the defending race winner.

Photos: NASCAR at Talladega Superspeedway Saturday Apr. 20, 2024

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Results Ag-Pro 300
Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega, Alabama
Saturday, April 20, 2024

1. (2) Jesse Love #, Chevrolet, 124.
2. (8) Riley Herbst, Ford, 124.
3. (11) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 124.
4. (33) Leland Honeyman #, Chevrolet, 124.
5. (27) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 124.
6. (10) Sheldon Creed, Toyota, 124.
7. (29) Caesar Bacarella, Chevrolet, 124.
8. (28) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 124.
9. (35) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 124.
10. (4) Cole Custer, Ford, 124.
11. (38) Mason Massey(i), Chevrolet, 124.
12. (31) Hailie Deegan #, Ford, 124.
13. (25) Kyle Sieg, Ford, 124.
14. (1) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 124.
15. (13) Taylor Gray(i), Toyota, 124.
16. (36) Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 124.
17. (24) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 124.
18. (17) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 124.
19. (14) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 124.
20. (9) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 124.
21. (5) Sammy Smith, Chevrolet, 124.
22. (18) Shane Van Gisbergen #, Chevrolet, 124.
23. (26) Blaine Perkins, Ford, 123.
24. (19) David Starr, Chevrolet, 123.
25. (7) Chandler Smith, Toyota, 123.
26. (37) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 123.
27. (20) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, DVP, 120.
28. (30) Dawson Cram #, Chevrolet, 120.
29. (3) Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, Accident, 117.
30. (21) Parker Retzlaff, Chevrolet, Ignition, 113.
31. (32) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, Accident, 111.
32. (12) Patrick Emerling, Chevrolet, Accident, 111.
33. (23) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, Accident, 65.
34. (6) Ryan Truex, Toyota, Accident, 65.
35. (22) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, Accident, 65.
36. (15) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, Accident, 65.
37. (34) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, Engine, 46.
38. (16) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 24.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 131.323 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 30 Mins, 42 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.141 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 28 laps.
Lead Changes: 34 among 16 drivers.
Lap Leaders: A. Hill 1-23;J. Love # 24-26;M. DiBenedetto 27;J. Love # 28-30;A. Hill 31-33;C. Custer 34-36;R. Sieg 37-42;C. Smith 43;R. Truex 44;C. Smith 45-46;A. Hill 47-51;J. Anderson 52;J. Love # 53-56;B. Jones 57-60;R. Sieg 61;S. Smith 62;S. Van Gisbergen # 63;S. Smith 64;A. Hill 65-68;D. Starr 69;A. Hill 70-72;R. Herbst 73-81;A. Hill 82-83;R. Herbst 84-86;P. Kligerman 87-88;R. Herbst 89;P. Kligerman 90;A. Alfredo 91-96;P. Kligerman 97;C. Custer 98;T. Gray(i) 99;J. Love # 100-110;A. Hill 111;P. Kligerman 112-117;J. Love # 118-124.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Austin Hill 7 times for 41 laps; Jesse Love # 5 times for 28 laps; Riley Herbst 3 times for 13 laps; Parker Kligerman 4 times for 10 laps; Ryan Sieg 2 times for 7 laps; Anthony Alfredo 1 time for 6 laps; Cole Custer 2 times for 4 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 4 laps; Chandler Smith 2 times for 3 laps; Sammy Smith 2 times for 2 laps; Shane Van Gisbergen # 1 time for 1 lap; Taylor Gray(i) 1 time for 1 lap; Ryan Truex 1 time for 1 lap; David Starr 1 time for 1 lap; Jordan Anderson 1 time for 1 lap; Matt DiBenedetto 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 2,48,21,81,16,20,97,9,98,00
Stage #2 Top Ten: 21,2,16,39,9,81,48,98,27,00