TULSA, Okla. — Jesse Love has been 17 for two days, and at that age he already has cut laps both at Daytona International Speedway and at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
Not bad for a weekend in the two-time reigning ARCA Menards Series West champion’s offseason.
Of course, there isn’t much of an offseason for the Menlo Park, California, native. He also has been spending the winter racing late models for Wilson Motorsports. There’s something special, though, about a Daytona-Chili Bowl combo in January.
— jesse love jr (@jesselovejr1) January 15, 2022
Love participated in Friday’s ARCA Menards Series pre-race practice at Daytona on Friday for Venturini Motorsports. He split time in VMS’ No. 20 Toyota Camry with teammate Corey Heim.
The team announced earlier this month that Love and Heim will share that ride in the ARCA Menards Series in 2022. Love is scheduled for 14 races with Heim in the other six.
Love recorded the sixth best lap in Friday’s practice at Daytona — 49.090 seconds at 183.337 mph.
Then it was time for him to go much faster in an airplane. Flying straight from Daytona to Tulsa, Oklahoma, Love said he arrived at the site of the Chili Bowl around midnight.
This was a return to Tulsa for Love, whose qualifying night at the Chili Bowl was Monday. That night, driving the No. 97X midget car for Keith Kunz Motorsports, he finished fourth in his heat race and third in his qualifier before coming home 15th in the preliminary A Feature.
That finish slotted Love in a D-Main for Saturday’s championship races. He finished 17th in his D-Main after spinning toward the end of the race.
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) January 15, 2022
Love earned his first ARCA Menards Series victory last season at Indiana’s Salem Speedway in his 14th series start. He also has five West Series wins in 20 starts across two seasons.
In 2020, Love with his West Series title became the youngest NASCAR champion in history; he was 15 at the time.
Last season, Love won the West Series title by virtue of a points tiebreaker over Jake Drew. Love picked up one position on the last lap of the last race of the season at Phoenix Raceway, and that spot earned him the championship.