Jesse Love outlasts two overtime shootouts for first Xfinity career win at Talladega

After generating an impressive start to his first NASCAR Xfinity Series campaign, rookie Jesse Love sealed the deal by notching his first career victory in the Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, April 20, amid two overtime shootouts. 

The 19-year-old Love from Menlo Park, California, led five times for 28 of 124 over-scheduled laps in an event where he started on the front row alongside teammate and pole-sitter Austin Hill. After spending nearly the entire first stage period running behind Hill amid the draft, Love overtook him on the final lap prior to Justin Allgaier wrecking out of the event to capture the stage victory. 

Love then spent the remainder of the event battling within the draft and towards the front while avoiding a handful of late on-track calamities that sent the event into overtime twice. After sneaking his way back into the lead for the start of the second overtime shootout, Love survived on a low tank of fuel and fended off late challenges from Leland Honeyman and Brennan Poole to score his first Xfinity Series career victory in his ninth series start. 

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, April 19, Austin Hill notched his fifth Xfinity career pole position, his first of the 2024 season and his third straight at Talladega after posting a pole-winning lap at 181.629 mph in 52.723 seconds. Joining him on the front row was teammate and rookie Jesse Love, who clocked in the second-fastest qualifying lap at 181.120 mph in 52.871 seconds. 

Prior to the event, the following names that included Jeb Burton, Sheldon Creed and Taylor Gray dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective entries. 

When the green flag waved and the race started, Austin Hill received a push from Cole Custer on the outside lane to muscle ahead before he then transitioned to the inside lane and moved in front of teammate Jesse Love through the first two turns. As the field fanned out to three lanes through the backstretch, Hill would manage to fend off the early challenges and maintain control of both lanes to return to the tri-oval with the lead and lead the first lap.  

On the second lap, Sammy Smith would challenge Hill for the lead from the backstretch through the frontstretch amid the draft as the field fully fanned out to three packed lanes. Smith, however, would lose ground during the following lap as he had no drafting help on the inside lane as Hill, who continued to have both lanes under his control, maintained the top spot ahead of teammate Love, Parker Kligerman, Ryan Truex and AJ Allmendinger through the fifth lap mark. 

Through the first 10 scheduled laps and with a majority of the field migrating to a long line on the outside lane, Hill was leading ahead of teammate Love, Kligerman, Truex and Chandler Smith, who was trying to ignite a drafting run from the inside lane, while Cole Custer, AJ Allmendinger, Riley Herbst, Justin Allgaier and Ryan Sieg trailed in the top 10 ahead of rookie Shane van Gisbergen, Anthony Alfredo, Kyle Weatherman, Jeremy Clements and Sheldon Creed.  

A lap later, Custer, who was drafting Chandler Smith on the inside lane, made a bold move beneath Smith to assume the runner-up spot before he then made a move beneath Hill in a bid for the lead through the frontstretch. Despite drawing even against Hill through the first two turns and the backstretch, Hill quickly fought back on the inside lane as he had teammate Love drafting him while Custer was trying to keep pace amid the draft. 

By Lap 15, Hill was leading by a tenth of a second over teammate Love followed by Chandler Smith, Kligerman and Truex while Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, van Gisbergen, Kyle Weatherman, Clements and the rest of the field followed suit, with the top 29 of 38 starters trailing within three seconds. 

Just past the Lap 20 mark, Hill continued to lead just ahead of teammate Love as Chandler Smith, Kligerman, Truex, Allmendinger, Allgaier, van Gisbergen, Weatherman and Clements were running in the top 10 ahead of Brandon Jones, Jeb Burton, Alfredo, Perkins, Taylor Gray, Creed, Herbst, Custer, Ryan Sieg and Josh Williams, all of whom were running under two seconds. 

On the final lap of the first stage period, the event’s first caution period flew after Allgaier, who was running in the top 10, got loose entering the backstretch and made contact with Herbst that sent Allgaier spinning before the Illinois veteran T-boned the inside wall hard at full pace as his No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro then came to a halt back across the track, with Allgaier managing to emerge uninjured. Allgaier’s incident not only spoiled his chances of achieving the third Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonus of the season, but it was also enough for the first stage period scheduled to conclude on Lap 25 to conclude under caution as Jesse Love, who overtook teammate Hill for the lead on the frontstretch and prior to Allgaier’s wreck, captured his fourth Xfinity stage victory of the 2024 season. Kligerman ended up second followed by Hill, Chandler Smith and Allmendinger while Truex, van Gisbergen, Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst and Custer were scored in the top 10. 

Under the stage break, a majority of the field led by Love pitted for service while the rest led by Matt DiBenedetto and including Joey Gase, Caesar Bacarella, Leland Honeyman, Jordan Anderson, Dawson Cram, Mason Massey and Hailie Deegan remained on the track. All including Josh Bilicki, who exited pit road first the lap prior, pitted during the following lap, which allowed Love to cycle back into the lead. Kligerman, who slid through his pit box earlier, also returned to pit road for another pit service. 

The second stage period started on Lap 30 as teammates Love and Hil occupied the front row. At the start, Love and Hill battled dead even for the lead through the first two turns and entering the backstretch until Hill muscled back ahead with the lead exiting the backstretch as Ryan Truex followed suit in second. With the field fanning out to three tight-packed lanes during the following lap, Hill maintained control of both lanes amid the draft.  

On Lap 34, a three-wide battle for the lead ensued as Custer, Truex and Hill battled dead even for the lead through the frontstretch until Custer muscled his No. 00 Haas Ford Mustang into the lead. Hill then fought back during the following two turns and the backstretch before Custer moved in front of Hill to stall his momentum. This allowed Ryan Sieg to move into the lead despite drawing dead even with Truex through the first two turns before Custer fought back and battled Sieg for the lead through the backstretch and the frontstretch. With the field tight-packed amid three lanes, Sieg fended off Custer to maintain the lead on the inside lane while Hill was trying to regain momentum on the outside lane by Lap 37. 

Just past the Lap 40 mark, Sieg continued to lead ahead of Hill, who surged his way back towards the front, along with Herbst while Love followed suit in fourth, though he would be overtaken by Chandler Smith, Custer and Taylor Gray amid the draft. Chandler Smith would then challenge Sieg in a side-by-side battle for the lead from the inside lane by Lap 42 before he assumed the top spot by the following lap as he had Hill following suit. Another lap later, teammate Truex challenged Smith for the lead before he got shuffled out of the draft. This enabled Smith to retain the top spot ahead of Hill and Love while Brandon Jones was trying to ignite a charge from the inside lane. 

When the second stage period concluded on Lap 50, Hill, who reassumed the lead four laps earlier, captured his second Xfinity stage victory of the 2024 season after fending off a last-lap charge from Allmendinger. Love edged Allmendinger to claim second followed by Sieg and Brandon Jones while Chandler Smith, Kligerman, Herbst, Jeb Burton and Truex were scored in the top 10. 

During the stage break, a majority of the field led by Hill pitted for service while the rest led by Jordan Anderson remained on the track. The remaining competitors who elected not to pit led by Anderson would pit shortly after as Love, who only opted for fuel to his entry, reassumed the lead.  

With 58 laps remaining, the final stage period commenced as Love and Brandon Jones occupied the front row. At the start, Love muscled ahead from the outside lane to retain the lead as he had Chandler Smith following him in the draft while Jones was trying to keep pace from the inside lane. With Hill trying to fight his way back to the front in ninth place and as the field fanned out amid the draft, Jones would assume the lead just past the halfway mark on Lap 57. With Jones leading, Kligerman followed suit along with Hill while Love was left to fend off Sieg for fourth place. 

With 52 laps remaining, Ryan Sieg muscled ahead from Jones on the inside lane entering the frontstretch to assume the lead. Sammy Smith would then rocket his way into a side-by-side challenge against Sieg for the lead entering Turn 3 as Smith had Shane van Gisbergen following him. With more battles at the front ensuing and more names carving their way to the front, van Gisbergen then led a lap for himself in his No. 97 Wendy’s Chevrolet Camaro with 50 laps remaining until Hill drafted Sammy Smith back to the lead ahead of a tight three-wide pack. 

A few laps later, the caution returned after Kligerman, who was running fourth, turned across the right-front fender of Sieg, where he then turned and sent Jones’ No. 9 Menards Chevrolet Camaro head-on into the outside wall in the frontstretch. This triggered a multi-car wreck that involved Allmendinger, Clements, Truex, Sam Mayer, Josh Williams, Jeb Burton, DiBenedetto, Leland Honeyman and Kyle Weatherman. At the moment of caution, Hill had reassumed the lead over Sammy Smith. 

During the caution period, a majority of the field led by Hill pitted for service while the rest led by David Starr remained on the track. As the rest of the field, including Starr and DiBenedetto pitted during the following few laps, Hill, who only opted for fuel to his entry, cycled back into the lead. 

As the event restarted under green with 41 laps remaining, Sieg received a push from Custer to maintain the lead on the inside lane as Herbst tried to follow suit in third place. Hill, however, would fight back on the outside before Custer moved in front of Hill to stall his momentum. Amid the field fanning out through the frontstretch, Herbst would assume the lead with 40 laps remaining. Then as Herbst was trying to fend off Love for the lead, the caution returned after Allmendinger’s rear bumper cover split, came off of the car and fell on the backstretch. 

During the following restart period with 35 laps remaining, Herbst muscled his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang ahead from the inside lane to retain the lead through the first two turns before he transitioned up to the outside lane to block Sieg and retain the lead. With the field fanning out to three lanes and charging hard to the front, Hill challenged Herbst for the lead during the following lap, but Herbst received a strong push from Sieg, Custer and Kligerman amid the draft to maintain the lead from the outside lane, which dropped Hill out of the top five as he was trying to regain momentum with drafting help from Alfredo and Love.  

With 30 laps remaining, Hill, who led the previous lap by a hair, over Herbst, was leading by a mere margin over Herbst amid a side-by-side battle while Alfredo, Sieg, Custer, Love, Kligerman, Sheldon Creed, Jordan Anderson and Chandler Smith were running in the top 10 ahead of van Gisbergen, Jeb Burton, Sammy Smith, Parker Retzlaff and Taylor Gray. By the following lap, the top-29 competitors were separated by two seconds as Herbst rocketed back into the lead ahead of Ford teammates Sieg and Custer while Kligerman, Creed and Hill followed suit. 

Five laps later, Kligerman, who led the previous lap, was leading ahead of Hill followed by Herbst, Sieg and Custer while Creed, Alfredo, van Gisbergen, Love and Jeb Burton were scored in the top 10 within the bevy of cars battling in the pack.  

Two laps later, Sieg, who was battling for the lead, lost pace and pitted under green to address a flat right-rear tire to his No. 39 Sci Aps Ford Mustang after he made contact with the frontstretch’s outside wall earlier. The move pinned Sieg a lap down and currently out of contention to claim the third Dash 4 Cash prize while allowing Allmendinger, who was racing in the middle of the pack, to draw himself back into contention for the prize. Amid Sieg’s late-race issue, Anthony Alfredo cycled into the lead as he was trying to fend off Kligerman, Chandler Smith and a bevy of competitors towards the front and in the draft. 

Down to the final 20 laps of the event and with a majority of the field migrating to a long single-file line towards the outside wall, Alfredo was leading ahead of Kligerman, Hill, Creed and van Gisbergen while Burton, Josh Williams, Retzlaff, Custer and David Starr were racing in the top 10. Behind, Love, Weatherman, Herbst, DiBenedetto and Patrick Emerling occupied the top-15 spots ahead of Blaine Perkins, Sammy Smith, Taylor Gray, Chandler Smith and Anderson. 

Five laps later, Custer, who assumed the lead the previous lap, was leading ahead of teammate Herbst while Alfredo, who nearly wrecked amid contact with Creed, had drifted out of lead contention. Custer would then get stuck in the middle of a three-wide packed competition that resulted with him losing the lead and a handful of spots as Herbst assumed a brief lead before Love assumed the lead back to the frontstretch. 

Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Love was leading both the race and a long line of competitors running towards the outside wall, with Kligerman, Hill, Herbst, Creed, Williams, van Gisbergen, Alfredo, Retzlaff and Perkins following suit in the top 10. By then, the top-19 competitors were running within two seconds of one another. 

With five laps remaining, Love continued to lead ahead of Kligerman, Hill, Herbst, Creed and a long line of competitors within the lead-lap draft, with some including Jeb Burton, Custer and Chandler Smith starting to fan out of the line and attempt to mount a charge from the inside lane. 

Two laps later, the front-runners started to scatter and fan out as Hill made a move underneath Kligerman through the first two turns to settle behind the leader and teammate Love, with Creed also mounting a charge from the outside lane amid the draft. Entering the frontstretch, Kligerman ran towards the outside wall to overtake Creed for position as Hill overtook teammate Love for the lead with two laps remaining.  

Then with two laps remaining, Hill got loose exiting the backstretch after he received a tap from Kligerman within the draft that resulted with Hill spinning his No. 21 Bennett Transportation Chevrolet Camaro across the front nose of Alfredo’s No. 5 Dude Wipes Chevrolet Camaro while Weatherman, Gray, Anderson, Starr, Burton, Herbst and Emerling also wrecked in an attempt to avoid Hill’s carnage as the rest of the front-runners scattered. The incident was enough to send the event into overtime as Kligerman escaped with the lead followed by Williams, Love, Perkins, van Gisbergen and Creed. 

The start of the first overtime attempt did not last long after Creed, who was running fourth, got bumped by Sammy Smith exiting the frontstretch that resulted with Creed running into the side of Williams and sending Williams sideways before he spun and clipped Kligerman’s No. 48 Spiked Lite Coolers Chevrolet Camaro as Kligerman hit the outside wall head-on and was taken out of contention for his first victory. The incident occurred as van Gisbergen, who restarted on the second row, fell off the pace after he ran out of fuel. Amid the carnage and fuel concerns amongst the leaders, Love escaped with the lead followed by Sammy Smith while Leland Honeyman, Hailie Deegan, Joey Gase, Caesar Bacarella, Brennan Poole and Ryan Ellis followed suit in the top eight. During the caution period, however, Smith fell off the pace after he ran out of fuel, where he then needed a wrecker to push his No. 8 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro back to his pit stall. 

The start of the second overtime attempt generated a different outcome as Love rocketed his No. 2 WAT Chevrolet Camaro away from a side-by-side battle involving Honeyman and Deegan through the first two turns. With Ryan Ellis slipping sideways and coming to a halt towards the bottom of the track while the race remained under green flag conditions, Love was left to defend a stacked three-wide charge behind through the following two turns. 

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Love remained as the leader as he had Honeyman drafting him just past the start/finish line. With Love leading a scattered field through the backstretch, he then threw two blocks on Honeyman before Brennan Poole mounted a charge entering Turns 3 and 4 followed by Alfredo. Poole then drew even with Love and tried to take the lead entering the tri-oval, but his momentum stalled as Love muscled back ahead. With the field fanned out to four lanes and as Joey Gase wrecked through the tri-oval while charging to the front, Love had enough momentum, motor and gas to drive across the finish line first for his first ever checkered flag in the Xfinity circuit. 

With the victory, Love, the reigning ARCA Menards Series champion, became the 177th competitor overall to win in the Xfinity Series and the seventh to do so at Talladega. He also became the seventh winner through the first nine events of the 2024 Xfinity schedule. 

In addition, Love recorded the 95th Xfinity career win for Richard Childress Racing and the first for RCR’s No. 2 entry since Myatt Snider won at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February 2021. The victory was the first in eight years in the Xfinity circuit for veteran Danny Stockman Jr., who returned to RCR as a crew chief for the California rookie. 

“Man, it’s been just a journey to get to this point,” Love said on FOX. “I got so many people to thank. Man, I wanted [this win] so bad. I had PTSD flashbacks from Atlanta and burned [the car] to the ground. It’s awesome. I love Talladega, my favorite speedway. I love the fans. My team did a phenomenal job. I was just going back and forth to if I thought I was doing a good job and then, I was making dumb decisions. Towards the end, the bottom [lane] started rolling. I don’t even remember what happened. I’d be lying if I told you I remembered what happened. Just a phenomenal car. Just ready to go celebrate with my family. A lot of people that I love very much that sacrificed a lot for me to get to this point.” 

Behind Love, Herbst mounted a late rally to finish second while Alfredo, Leland Honeyman and Brennan Poole finished in the top five. 

Sheldon Creed, Caesar Bacarella, Matt DiBenedetto, Jeb Burton and Custer completed the top 10 on the track. 

Meanwhile, Ryan Sieg finished 17th and claimed the third Dash 4 Cash bonus of the 2024 season and his first overall by two positions over AJ Allmendinger, who ended up 19th. Sieg, Jesse Love, Riley Herbst and Anthony Alfredo will square off against one another for the fourth and final Dash 4 Cash bonus of the 2024 season next weekend at Dover Motor Speedway.

There were 34 lead changes for 16 different leaders. The race featured six cautions for 28 laps. In addition, 22 of 38 starters finished on the lead lap. 

Following the ninth event of the 2024 Xfinity Series season, Chandler Smith leads the regular-season standings by 14 points over Cole Custer, 16 over Austin Hill, 41 over Jesse Love, 79 over Justin Allgaier and 85 over Riley Herbst. 


1. Jesse Love, 28 laps led, Stage 1 winner 

2. Riley Herbst, 13 laps led 

3. Anthony Alfredo, six laps led 

4. Leland Honeyman 

5. Brennan Poole 

6. Sheldon Creed 

7. Caesar Bacarella 

8. Matt DiBenedetto, one lap led 

9. Jeb Burton 

10. Cole Custer, four laps led 

11. Mason Massey 

12. Hailie Deegan 

13. Kyle Sieg 

14. Austin Hill, 41 laps led, Stage 2 winner 

15. Taylor Gray, one lap led 

16. Josh Bilicki 

17. Ryan Sieg, seven laps led 

18. Joey Gase 

19. AJ Allmendinger 

20. Josh Williams 

21. Sammy Smith, two laps led 

22. Shane van Gisbergen, one lap led 

23. Blaine Perkins, one lap down 

24. David Starr, one lap down, one lap led 

25. Chandler Smith, one lap down, three laps led 

26. Ryan Ellis, one lap down 

27. Kyle Weatherman – OUT, DVP 

28. Dawson Cram, four laps down

29. Parker Kligerman – OUT, Accident, 10 laps led 

30. Parker Retzlaff – OUT, Ignition 

31. Jordan Anderson – OUT, Accident, one lap led 

32. Patrick Emerling – OUT, Accident 

33. Brandon Jones – OUT, Accident, four laps led 

34. Ryan Truex – OUT, Accident, one lap led 

35. Jeremy Clements – OUT, Accident 

36. Sam Mayer – OUT, Accident 

37. Jeffrey Earnhardt – OUT, Engine 

38. Justin Allgaier – OUT, Accident 

Next on the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the BetRivers 200 at Dover Motor Speedway in Dover, Delaware. The event is scheduled to occur next Saturday, April 27, and air at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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