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Jesse Love Holds Off Hungry Pack in Double Overtime for Maiden Xfinity Win

Photo Credit: James Gilbert, Getty Images

There’s no question that Richard Childress Racing continues to have the NASCAR Xfinity Series field covered when it comes to the superspeedways.

Austin Hill has been the driver heading up that effort for the last couple of seasons, collecting six of his eight Xfinity Series victories on drafting tracks — Daytona, Talladega, and Atlanta. This season, there’s a brand-new challenger to Hill’s dominance on the superspeedways, though, and it happens to be teammate, 2023 ARCA Menards Series champion Jesse Love.

The 19-year-old driver was able to put a stop to the supremacy on the superspeedways by Hill so far in 2024, winning Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, the first win of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career in just his ninth start.

After sweeping the front row in qualifying Friday, the Richard Childress Racing teammates were clearly the cars and drivers to beat in Saturday’s 300-mile contest, which finished with two rounds of NASCAR Overtime.

When it came time to race for the victory, Love made a pair of impressive moves — first to get inside of a sideways Parker Kligerman and avoid an accident, and then a masterful two-lap defense against a hungry pack of drivers looking for their first career victories.

Things just about slipped through the cracks for Love, when Brennan Poole, driving the No. 44 for Alpha Prime Racing, made it to his outside at the exit of the fourth corner, and got alongside the eventual race-winner, before losing momentum and getting split four-wide in the tri-oval.

“Just a great group of guys, man,” said Love post-race. “It’s been just a journey to get to this point I have so many people to thank. Man, I just wanted it so bad. I had PTSD flashbacks from Atlanta and burned her to the ground, huge thank you to ECR for bringing the most steam in the building, it’s awesome, I love Talladega.”

Love was able to cross the start-finish line 0.141 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Riley Herbst, who marched through the pack in the second NASCAR Overtime to get himself a solid top-five result and qualify himself for the Dash 4 Cash finale next weekend at Dover.

Anthony Alfredo picked up a career-best third-place finish in his No. 5 DUDE Wipes Chevrolet for Our Motorsports, while a pair of underdogs in Leland Honeyman and Brennan Poole completed the top-five, earning fantastic results for Young’s Motorsports and Alpha Prime Racing.

Sheldon Creed earned a respectable sixth-place result at Talladega, while the rest of the top-10 was completed by Caesar Bacarella in seventh, Matt DiBenedetto in eighth, Jeb Burton in ninth, and defending NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Cole Custer in 10th.

Hailie Deegan scored a career-best 12th-place result on Saturday, and at one point in the race’s closing laps looked like she would potentially challenge the best-ever finish by a female driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series — fourth by Danica Patrick at Las Vegas in 2011.

With a 17th-place finish, Ryan Sieg earned the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus for RSS Racing at Talladega Superspeedway, rebounding from a flat tire and an unscheduled pit stop to finish on the lead-lap and ahead of AJ Allmendinger.

The event, as is usual for a superspeedway in the Xfinity Series, had a chaotic second half, which saw several strong contenders for the victory knocked out of contention for the win.

Austin Hill led a race-high 41 laps in Saturday’s 124-lap contest but came home heavily damaged and in 14th place, after getting turned by alliance teammate Parker Kligerman late in the race, collecting several drivers such as Kyle Weatherman, Jordan Anderson, Patrick Emerling, and Anthony Alfredo.

Around the halfway point of the event, ‘The Big One’ erupted at the entrance to the first corner, which eliminated Brandon Jones, Sam Mayer, and several others from contention for the victory.

However, the award for the biggest impact of the afternoon likely belongs to Justin Allgaier, who was turned down the racetrack on the final lap of the race’s first stage and slammed into the place where the SAFER barrier juts out, lifting his BRANDT Chevrolet in the air.

Leaving Talladega, Chandler Smith continues to hold the lead in NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings, with a 14-point advantage over Cole Custer. Austin Hill, Jesse Love, and Justin Allgaier rounded out the top five.

Next up for the series is a trip to Dover Motor Speedway, where Ryan Truex will attempt to defend his heart-warming victory from one season ago, and Jesse Love will look to go back-to-back for his second career win.

Race Results: NXS Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway

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