Race Weekend Central

Jesse Love Saves Enough Fuel, Wins at Talladega

Jesse Love captured his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Talladega Superspeedway in Saturday’s (April 20) Ag-Pro 300. He led 23 laps and survived a fuel mileage battle to close out his first win. Love ran out of fuel in overtime at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this year after leading the most laps in that race.

“It’s been a journey to get to this point,” Love said. “I had a PTSD flashback to Atlanta and burned her to the ground. I watched The Masters and took one off of Scottie Scheffler. I knew my victory was secured on a cross, and I didn’t have to worry about much. If we run out, than we ran out. My team did a phenomenal job. We fought.”

Riley Herbst survived to be the highest-finishing Ford in the field, crossing the line second. Herbst made his way from deep in the top 10 to finish 0.141 seconds behind the leader.

“It was hectic for sure, a lot of people battling fuel,” Herbst said. “Just really, really proud of everyone at Stewart Haas Racing. It’s been no joke that we lack a little bit on the plate tracks to the RCR cars, and I felt like we’re as good as them now. Kind of up and down start to the year, but I’m proud of everyone on this [No.] 98 team sticking with me, and I’m ready to go win $100,000 at Dover.”

Anthony Alfredo tied his career-best Xfinity finish at third. Alfredo led laps late ahead of strong drivers throughout the day such as Parker Kligerman, Austin Hill, Herbst and others.

Leland Honeyman logged his career-best finish of fourth after saving enough fuel and restarting second on the final restart.

Brennan Poole fought Love off of turn 4 for the win, reminiscent to his battle with Elliott Sadler at Talladega in 2016. However, instead of being side-by-side at the line, Poole finished fifth.

Sheldon Creed, Caesar Bacarella, Matt DiBenedetto (career-best), Jeb Burton and Cole Custer rounded out the top 10.

The RCR teammates of Hill and Love started from the front row, and quickly, Hill and Love settled in and led the top line for the majority of the 25-lap first stage.

With two laps to go in the stage, Love made the move on his teammate for the lead just in time before Justin Allgaier spectacularly wrecked on the backstretch infield wall opening on the final lap of stage one.

“It was a weird hit,” Allgaier said. “At first, I thought I was going to be ok and I was going to do a 360 through the apron there, and it was weird because it kept driving me forward and driving towards that inside wall, and obviously the impact was pretty big.”

Kligerman filed in second behind Love while Hill, Chandler Smith and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five for stage one.

See also
Jake Finch Dominates, Wins ARCA Race at Talladega

Hill took the top spot back to start stage two while all three lines developed behind him, and Hill blocked all the lanes until Ryan Truex forced him three wide. The lead was swapped between Hill and Custer until No. 39 of Ryan Sieg took charge of the front on lap 37.

Smith joined the fight for the lead from the bottom lane and took the lead from Sieg while he was blocking Hill on lap 44.

Hill returned back to the lead after a big push from his teammate Love on lap 47, four laps to go in the stage, and Hill held on to the lead for the stage two win.

Love, Allmendinger, Sieg and Brandon Jones were the top five finishers in stage two.

Love and Jones battled for the lead to begin the stage with the No. 9 taking the better of the No. 2 for the lead.

By lap 61 though, Sieg, Jones, Sammy Smith, Hill, Jordan Anderson and Van Gisbergen all battled for the top spot, and shortly after, the first big one of the day was set off.

The first multi-car crash happened after the Sieg and Kligerman made contact, sending the No. 48 into Jones, collecting Allmendinger, Sam Mayer, Josh Williams, DiBenedetto, Kyle Weatherman, Honeyman, Burton, Creed, Truex and Jeremy Clements among others.

After a quick, subsequent debris caution for Allmendinger’s back bumper coming off, Herbst held off challenges from Sieg, Hill and Shane van Gisbergen on the lap 78 restart.

With 27 to go, Kligerman was able to get a good run on the bottom to take the lead and held off Herbst. In that exchange, Sieg suffered a flat tire, affecting his chance at the Dash 4 Cash win by relegating Sieg one lap down.

The lead was swapped multiple times between the drivers of Herbst, Kligerman, Custer, Love and Alfredo, and with Love in the lead, the field went single file with 13 to go.

Hill was able to get the lead from Kligerman, but the Nos. 21 and 48 got together, triggering a multiple car wreck involving Hill, Patrick Emerling, Alfredo, Burton, DiBenedetto, Anderson, Taylor Gray, David Starr and Herbst.

Several cars were close on fuel, and on the first overtime restart, Van Gisbergen ran out of gas, and Love got into Creed. Williams, who started on the front row got turned by Creed, sending him into the leader Kligerman.

On the restart, Love was able to hold the rest of the field off on the restart, and he had saved enough fuel to make it to the finish for his first win.

Additionally, Sieg got the free pass and was able to pass the damaged Allmendinger to claim the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus.

2024 Xfinity Series Ag-Pro 300 Race Results

The next stop in the Xfinity Series schedule will be Dover Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 27 at 1:30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by FOX Sports 1

About the author

Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.

Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime

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Kligerman likes to use his bumper. He should be in trucks.

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