Race Weekend Central

Jesse Love Is Taking Xfinity by Storm & Embracing RCR Culture

He may be a rookie in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but Jesse Love has hit the ground running.

The 19-year-old won poles in his first two starts and nearly won the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, leading 157 of the 169 laps before running out of fuel in overtime. Love bounced back at Phoenix, the most recent NXS race, to finish second — his career-best in four starts so far.

The Menlo Park, Calif., native moved up to Xfinity this year after winning half of the races and the championship in the ARCA Menards Series in 2023. But in a shocking twist, Love left Toyota after the championship to drive Richard Childress Racing’s Chevrolets this year.

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Love caught up with Frontstretch‘s Michael Massie at Las Vegas to talk the Atlanta performance, the process of going to RCR and the team’s culture. They even talked about if he’d be interested in doing a crossover with an NFL player with the same last name.

Michael Massie, Frontstretch: So at Atlanta, you dominated the thing. After reflecting on it, does it still sting? What are your thoughts on last week?

Jesse Love: No, I have a different mindset than most people. I don’t really care what the result is, right? I just kind of care about the performance, and I was really proud of our guys. They did a phenomenal job. And I did almost a perfect job, right?

There’s some things that I could have done to save more fuel, and I wasn’t thinking about an overtime finish. So that was where my learning lesson was. But it’s still off to a great start, and we’re really good at points. We’ve collected a lot of points so far. Those playoff points go a long way.

Massie: The thing is, though, a lot of people, I think, grew to respect you after that race. You gained a lot of respect in the garage area. So what’s more important walking away with the trophy or the respect of your peers?

Love: I think you have to find a way to make that go hand-in-hand. I feel like, again, your results shouldn’t impact how people will respect you. Again, if you’re winning, there’s gonna be respect in that sense. It’s not 100% 50/50 or one-to-one.

But at the same time, I feel like I’ve tried to represent my guys in the right way and represent myself in the right way and be genuine about the emotions. I said it, it stung. It hurt a little bit. But at the same time, I was still really proud of our guys and everything that they did up until that point. We should be really proud of what we’ve done so far. And we just want to keep going in the right direction.

Massie: When he got out the car after winning, your teammate Austin Hill made sure to give you a lot of praise. He just won the race, you would think that’d be the top of his mind, but he gave you the praise. What do you think about that guy so far?

Love: He’s just a phenomenal teammate. He’s the best teammate that I’ve been able to work with so far in my career. And things like that go a long way with myself of just knowing, like, OK, I did a really good job today, and so did my guys, and our car was really fast.

To have that recognition was huge for myself when I got home. So again, Austin’s just a phenomenal team leader, a phenomenal team player, and he’s taught me a lot.

Massie: So my question for you is aren’t rookies supposed to struggle like their first couple of races? How have you come out of the gate so hot?

Love: I think I’m just around really good people right now. Put in a lot of work. And, again, I’ve learned how to lose before. I went through a lot of losing in my career and figured out how to win and what to do to win races.

I spent a lot of work in the offseason. I said it a lot before Daytona of — our offseason has gone as well as it could have. And I think that we’re just reaping the benefits of that right now.

Massie: You coming into RCR, I think it caught a lot of people by surprise. What was the process, and how late did all this kind of come together?

Love: It was like a little blip on the radar midway through the year. And then I wanted to stay with Toyota because I try to be a loyal person, and they had helped me a lot to that point. But I wanted to go full-time in the top three series, and somehow, that wasn’t an option at the TRD deal, and it was over here [at RCR].

Getting to the point of meeting everybody at RCR was the hardest part of opening that door. But once I met everybody in the organization and got to see it around, working with them and meeting the people that run that place, like Richard [Childress], Danny Lawrence and Torrey [Galida], the president. Once I got to meet all those people, then it was a really easy decision. Until that point, it was a hard decision. But once I got to meet all of them, see how they go about their operation, it was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made.

Massie: Describe for me the culture at RCR.

Love: It’s a family-oriented deal, just like my old ARCA team at Venturi Motorsports is a family-oriented business. It’s a family-oriented race team first, and that is what I was looking for, to keep that mindset of knowing where I was at and being happy with with where I was.

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Once I went over here [to RCR] and saw just how family-oriented RCR is, then it was, again, just a really easy decision. Where I want to race is right here because I love the people over here. But even more important than that, how they run it is just how I would want to run a race team. So that’s why the decision was so easy for me.

Massie: Have you had a chance to see the the museum they got on the campus yet?

Love: I haven’t yet. I don’t know why. I feel like whenever I go there I just want to go see my guys in the shop, and the ECR engine shop is really cool. I feel like I’m just waiting to win a race first to go check out the museum. I don’t know why. Every time I could go see it, I just think, ‘Ah, I want to win a race first,’ just to go see the history of everything.

You see a lot in the shop, and a lot of the history is in the shop and the people. Because a lot of people that work at RCR have been there for so long. So if you want to know anything about RCR, you just go in the shop and you ask the guys. They know more than what’s probably in the museum. So that’s helped me a lot to understand why they operate the way they do and why it’s successful.

Massie: You kind of burst onto the scene at the same time that another guy with the last name Love burst onto the scene: Jordan Love [Green Bay Packers quarterback] in the NFL. If he came to you and was like, ‘Hey, we got to do a collaboration with something,’ would you do it?

Love: Yeah, absolutely. I actually like the Packers a good bit. I did a lot of racing in Wisconsin, and Chris Wimmer, my crew chief and my car owner when I ran a lot of super late [model] races, was in Wisconsin. So I love everybody from Wisconsin. They’re great people, and they’re some of the best fans there are.

And I was a big Aaron Rodgers [former Packers quarterback] fan. … I like football a lot too. Jordan was making me a lot of points in the beginning of the year last year, fantasy-football-wise, and then he made me lose some. Hopefully he can see this. …

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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