‘Big Steam’ Carries Love To Daytona Xfinity Pole

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Richard Childress Racing continued its superspeedway qualifying mastery Saturday afternoon at Daytona Int’l Speedway, but not with the driver everyone expected.

Rookie Jesse Love, making his first ever NASCAR Xfinity Series appearance, rocketed to the pole for the season opening United Rentals 300. It marked the third straight Daytona Xfinity pole for RCR.

Driving the No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet Camaro, Love scorched the 2.5-mile Daytona high banks in 49.702 seconds (181.079 mph) to become the 209th different pole winner in Xfinity Series history.

It marked the fourth superspeedway pole in a row for car owner Richard Childress, who saw Austin Hill win both Daytona poles as well as the pole at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last year.

This time, however, it was Childress’ starry-eyed, 19-year-old rookie superstar on top of the charts in a session shortened from two knockout rounds to a single round due to impending weather.

“I’m definitely happy there weren’t two rounds,” said Love, the reigning ARCA Menards Series champion. “First off, all the glory to God for the opportunity I have in front of me this year, and a huge thank you to everyone at ECR [Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines] because we’ve got big steam under the hood.

“RCR cars are just that fast here and in superspeedway trim, in general,” Love added. “I’m just super grateful for the effort that Danny [Stockman, crew chief] has put into this team and I’m blessed to be in this position at one of the best tracks there is with the best situation I could ask for around me. I’m just looking forward to getting going – hopefully we can race today – but if not, we’ll see everyone Monday.”


Love will be joined on the front row by his RCR teammate Hill, who was three thousandths of a second slower at 49.705 seconds (181.068 mph) in the No. 21 Bennett Transportation Chevrolet Camaro.

That pair led a top-seven sweep for the Bowtie Brigade in Xfinity Series qualifying, with Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger and Big Machine Racing’s Parker Kligerman timing in third and fourth, respectively.

New Zealand rookie Shane van Gisbergen, a three-time Australian Supercars champion, was fifth in the second of four Kaulig entries at Daytona, followed by JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and the family-owned No. 51 of Jeremy Clements.

John Hunter Nemechek was the fastest Toyota qualifier in eighth, with Jordan Anderson Racing’s Parker Retzlaff and Our Motorsports’ Anthony Alfredo closing the top 10.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst, who qualified 11th, was the best of the Ford drivers on the time sheets. His teammate, defending series champion Cole Custer, lines up 17th for the 300-mile race.

Other notables deep in the field include Daniel Suarez (18th), Ryan Truex (20th), Brandon Jones (22nd), Daniel Dye (26th), and Frankie Muniz (37th), who made the race via an owner points provisional with Joey Gase Motorsports for his first start of a limited Xfinity Series schedule this season.

With 44 cars on the property for 38 starting spots, Kyle Sieg, C.J. McLaughlin, Caesar Bacarella, Joey Gase, David Starr, and Stanton Barrett failed to qualify.

Starr initially made the race on speed, but had his time disallowed for failing post-qualifying technical inspection. That allowed JD Motorsports’ Dawson Cram to make the race via an owner point provisional.

The United Rentals 300 is slated for a 4:30 p.m. ET green flag, moved up an hour due to the threat of weather in the Daytona Beach area, but rain began dampening Daytona Int’l Speedway shortly after the conclusion of qualifying. A delay, if not an outright postponement of the race, is expected by many.

When the race does go green, coverage will air on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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