Jesse Love holds off field in double-OT to score first win at Talladega

Jesse Love scored his first career Xfinity Series win Saturday at Talladega, holding off the field in double-overtime.

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Jesse Love earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday in a typically wild double-overtime finish in the Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway — crossing the line by a slight 0.141-seconds ahead of Riley Herbst.

In many ways, it was victorious redemption for the 19-year-old Californian, who earlier this season was leading the race in overtime at Atlanta Motor Speedway only to run out of fuel before the checkered flag. Love‘s win in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet makes him only the seventh driver to score his maiden win at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.

“Just a great group of guys [on my team] and it‘s been such a journey to get to this point,‘‘ a grinning Love said before thanking a litany of people that helped him in his young career to date.

“I had PTSD flashbacks from Atlanta,‘‘ Love acknowledged, adding: “I love Talladega. I love the speedway and I love the fans.”

Love certainly earned this first win — starting on the outside of the front row next to his veteran RCR teammate Austin Hill, winning his fourth stage of the season (Stage 1) and leading 28 of the 124 laps. He ran top five for most of the afternoon and when he needed to go on that final restart, he went, jumping to the lead at the overtime green flag and holding off the field when it mattered most.

His RCR teammate Hill, the polesitter, led a race-best 41 laps and was out front with two laps remaining in regulation when he was hit from behind by Parker Kligerman. The incident sent Hill‘s car into the wall and ultimately collected nine cars, including many that had been running toward the front much of the afternoon — putting the race into overtime.

On the ensuing overtime restart, Kligerman was eliminated in a four-car crash at the front as various cars started running out of gas. Love lined up on the front row for the final restart among eight drivers racing for their career first wins.

Herbst‘s runner-up finish in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was his best showing of the year. Our Motorsports’ Anthony Alfredo finished third, followed by Young‘s Motorsports rookie Leland Honeyman Jr. and Alpha Prime Racing‘s Brennan Poole. Alfredo tied his career best mark and Honeyman had a career-best finish.

Jesse Love takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega.

Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Sheldon Creed, Alpha Prime Racing‘s Caesar Bacarella, Viking Motorsports‘s Matt DiBenedetto, Jordan Anderson Racing‘s Jeb Burton (the 2023 Talladega winner) and Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Cole Custer rounded out the top 10.

There were 34 lead changes among 16 drivers in a typically Talladega afternoon.

Ryan Sieg, who lost to Sam Mayer last week at Texas Motor Speedway in a photo finish by 0.002-seconds, won the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus.

An 11-car accident on Lap 65 proved critical to several race frontrunners as well as Dash 4 Cash eligible drivers.

Herbst hit Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevy with only two laps left in the opening stage — both vying for a top 10 and some early stage points. It eliminated Allgaier from contention. Mayer was eliminated in a later multi-car crash and that left an intriguing battle between Sieg, who had to make a green flag late race pit stop because of a flat tire and AJ Allmendinger, whose car was damaged in a crash.

Sieg and Allmendinger lined up 19th and 20th — respectively — on the second overtime re-start and Sieg was able to pull away, finishing 17th with Allmendinger 19th.

“This is huge for our team,‘‘ Sieg said. “It was a rough one. I thought I threw it away, but were lucky enough to get the caution at the end and come back and beat the 16. So it all worked out and is pretty extraordinary for our small team.”

Not only does he win the Dash 4 Cash paycheck, but Sieg will compete against Love, Herbst and Alfredo next week at Dover for the final race of the incentive program.

Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Chandler Smith, who finished 25th, still holds a 14-point lead over Custer atop the championship standings.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series moves to the 1-mile Dover Motor Speedway next week for Saturday‘s BetRivers 200 (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Ryan Truex is the defending race winner.