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Jesse Love Begins His Countdown to Daytona in Cordele

The TRD prospect is likely to race at Daytona but admits there's much to learn.


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At 17-years-old, Jesse Love is in the second year of a two-year holding pattern.

The reigning ARCA West Series champion has proven to be talented enough to race at the highest levels and has accumulated a tremendous amount of experience across a variety of disciplines but is kind of stuck on short tracks, dirt tracks and road courses until his next birthday.

He doesn’t look at it that way though.

"I would say there is always something more to learn," Love told Racing America in advance of the Southern Super Series Georgia Spring Nationals at Watermelon Capital Speedway this weekend. "You have to complete the task given to you.

"Right now, that task is winning every race we enter and winning in ARCA. I want to get better on half miles because we do feel the aero there and that's going to matter a lot more when I start racing trucks. I don't feel like I'm running out the clock. I just want to be as good as I can be once I get to the Truck Series."

Love has advanced as high as a B feature in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. He has two victories in the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna. He has two wins in the TC Americas Touring Car series. He has five ARCA sanctioned wins in addition to his 2021 championship.

He is one of the top prospects in the Toyota Racing Development pipeline and is a Jack of all trades, but he wants to start mastering a few of them before he gets to Daytona in February.

To that point, Love doesn’t yet have a marquee Super Late Model touring victory, which is what brought him to Watermelon Capital Speedway this weekend to race against the Southern Super Series with team owner and crew chief Chris Wimmer.

He’s skipping the ARCA West opener at Irwindale to do it, too.

"I’ve watched a lot of races there, Speedfest every year," Love said. "So, I have a good idea of what to expect but Corey Heim is one of my best friends and he has a couple of wins there. It’s one of his best tracks and he’s given me a really good idea of what to expect.

"Chris has been really good there with a lot of different drivers over the years too."

What’s arguably most impressive about Love is how he balances humility and confidence. He knows he has supporters, sponsors and a manufacturer that believes in him wholeheartedly. He has confidence in his ability to race a variety of different cars.

But Love is also aware of his deficiencies. He knows what he needs to focus on and simply works towards improving in those specific areas. And he does it all without feeling any kind of pressure.

And again, it’s not overconfidence, but just the byproduct of his development path. Love has raced on television since his quarter midget days and then into his Jr Late Model tenure. He’s competed on television in the Chili Bowl and ARCA.

"I have been interviewed and on social media since I was little," Love said. "My dad has done a good job of putting me in situations where I would feel comfortable on bigger stages where others might feel pressure. Don't get me wrong. When I show up at Daytona or Bristol, I'll get goosebumps, but nothing goes over the radar for me.

"I've been in a lot of different cars, and that means I need to get better in each of them. I have another year until I turn 18 but I want to be much better six months from now and then six months after that."

That's why he doesn't view it as running out the clock.

"I need to get better at learning aero or being disciplined with my feet on short tracks like Cordele. There's always something to learn and there always will be."