Jesse Love’s top performances continued as Charlotte Motor Speedway’s massive Coca-Cola 600 weekend began with a thrilling ending.
Love, driving the No. 20 Toyota for Venturini Motorsports, survived a green-white-checkered finish, won his third consecutive ARCA Menards Series race, and gave his team its first Charlotte victory in the General Tire 150 on Friday.
“It’s really cool to get [the team’s] first win here,” Love said. “We did a lot of simulator work and we unloaded ok earlier.
“I lost for about two years. No matter how good you are you start to question yourself at that point. I’m on a hot streak now.”
Love, the 18-year-old ARCA points leader from Menlo Park, Calif., started from the pole position but was second for the race’s final restart which was triggered when Stephanie Moyer spun.
Leader Christian Rose was on the inside, but hadn’t pitted in more than 50 laps, allowing Love to power past on the outside and hold off Dean Thompson at the checkered flag.
“Luckily for us one car stayed out, which gave us the front row on our own [among teams that pitted],” said Love, who has also won at Talladega and Kansas this season. “I wasn’t too worried about the caution. I’m strapped to a bottle rocket right now.”
Thompson finished second for the second consecutive race, followed by Taylor Gray in third, Grant Enfinger in fourth and Andy Jankowiak in fifth.
“One lap short part two right,” said Thompson. “I’m lucky to be able to do this. I’ve worked my whole life to be here. To finish second, I have to be gracious.”
Among other notable finishers, Frankie Muniz placed sixth, Rose ended up eighth, Connor Mosack was ninth and Tony Cosentino drove the final car on the lead lap home in 11th.
Racing continues this weekend with the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race tonight at 8:30 (FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at noon (FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday at 6 p.m. (Fox, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Tickets for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 are sold out. Fans can purchase tickets for other Charlotte Motor Speedway events at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Admission to the Circle K Speed Street concert by Jake Owen (Saturday) is free with any race ticket. Sunday’s pre-race concert by The Doobie Brothers is free with a Coca-Cola 600 race ticket.