Flat Tire Derails Jesse Love’s Solid Dover Afternoon

April 26, 2024: NASCAR races at Dover Motor Speedway in Dover, Delaware. (HHP/Jacy Norgaard)

DOVER, Del. – Jesse Love led laps during Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series BetRivers 200 before a mid-race flat tire scuttled his afternoon at Dover Motor Speedway.

Love used pit strategy to “flip the script” at the first stage break of the day, pitting under caution at lap 30 and then staying out at the lap-45 benchmark to gain track position as others ahead of him pitted.

The 19-year-old from Menlo Park, Calif., then drove around Parker Retzlaff on a lap-52 restart to take the lead outright, pacing the field for 21 circuits before being passed by defending series champion Cole Custer on lap 73.

From there, Love finished third in stage two before contact with eventual race winner Ryan Truex on lap 104 – just after the beginning of the final stage – cut his left-rear tire and forced the rookie to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop.

That dropped Love two laps down to the leaders, a deficit he was unable to overcome with minimal cautions in the second half of Saturday’s race. He ultimately finished 24th despite having top-five speed late in the going.

“We had a fast Whelen Chevrolet at Dover Motor Speedway,” noted Love. “At the beginning of the race, our Chevy was a little tight, but as the race progressed it began to get free off turns three and four. Danny Stockman and the crew did a great job with the adjustments and keeping up with the changes in the track. During the second stage of the race, we led a lot of laps, and we were setting ourselves up for a solid finish before the No. 20 car got into me going into turn one and cut our left rear tire down.


“It was unfortunate that I had to make a green flag stop for the left side tires and went two laps down as a result,” Love added. “Toward the end of the race, we were running top-five lap times trying to make up as much ground as possible to get back what we lost having to pit under green. I’m proud of the effort everyone at Richard Childress Racing put in this weekend. I feel like we had a good shot to pick up another top-five finish.

“We will take the weekend off, recharge, and return in two weeks at Darlington Raceway.”

Love’s Dover result brought an end to his streak of nine top-20 finishes to begin his Xfinity Series career. He became the eighth driver in series history to start his tenure with that kind of consistency.

Despite his less-than-stellar finish at the Monster Mile, Love maintained fourth place in the Xfinity Series’ regular season standings, 57 points behind leader Chandler Smith.

Love and the rest of the Xfinity Series field will take a week off before returning to action on Saturday, May 11 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Coverage of the Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200 airs at 1:30 p.m. ET, live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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