Personal growth highlights Jesse Love’s meteoric rise in racing

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March 10, 2023 This was unclear on the schedule for the ARCA Menards Series drivers at Phoenix Raceway. For Jesse Love, it was the race that put him on the road to a championship.

Love didn’t finish this run. He ended the day 27 after collapsing in an accident. This followed the ARCA season opener at Daytona after Love had a pitted car spin in seventh place.

In an interview with NBC Sports, Fickre spoke about his early season frustrations: “It was like, ‘What can I do wrong again this year?’ Because last year I won like three races and the year before that I probably won four or five races.

“I knew I needed a year off. But I don’t think I know how to do it.

Love thought after the accident with the Phoenix. He won eight of the next 11 races. Love finished the season with 10 trips to Victory Lane and an ARCA title, matching Ty Gibbs’ mark for the 2021 season. And love a A full-time Xfinity Series ride with Richard Childress Racing.

This turn was sudden but how did love make it happen? The speed in Venturini Motorsports cars has not changed. What has changed is the driver.

“I let go of the mindset of wanting to fail,” Love says. “I started focusing on success.”

Love pushed aside everything he couldn’t control. He turned his attention to how he could make it through the entire race week.

A change in mindset led to success on the track. Love also influenced his response to problems with other drivers.

“I’d say about two months ago, I really noticed the maturity,” Fox Sports’ Jamie Little told NBC Sports. “It was a race between him and William Sawlich. Things didn’t work out the way he wanted and the interview afterwards was great.”

“He didn’t deny that they had bad blood or that they got together, but he didn’t say anything negative about him, like, ‘I’ll take him out next time,’ or ‘We’ll even score.’ He just grew up about it.”

Keep the personality

Little, who manned the Fox broadcast booth during ARCA, doesn’t believe Love has lost his personality as he’s learned to use his emotions better. She’s seen it on display away from the track and throughout the 20-race schedule.

That personality shines through when Love describes his love of golf and the favorite courses he plays across the country. Love will host Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, host of the 2024 US Open, for a matchup with Daniel Dye.

This personality is also evident when Love talks about his love of classic rock and the joy he gets from playing the drums, ukulele, saxophone and guitar.

Love was a big fan of Rush growing up. This is an accolade he earned from traveling to and from races with his father in California, Idaho, Oklahoma and many other states.

They were listening to classic rock, Love’s father recording the band’s first album about Black Sabbath, members of Yes arguing about chords and Neil Peart writing the lyrics to all of Rush’s songs.

This persona comes through as Love chronicles some of his special moments behind the wheel of NASCAR tracks for the first time.

“I always have little moments of awareness in the car I’m in, like mid-race,” Love said. “I’m at dang Bristol right now and I have a shot to win this race. Crazy.’

“When I did that at Talladega, I was like, ‘This is really, really, really wild.’

Positive role models

During his dominant ARCA season, Love won 10 races. That statistic was the result of changing his mindset, but it wasn’t the switch he flipped the night before his first three-game winning streak.

Love made a change in his approach during ARCA but it was only the last step that was started by his parents and continued with people outside his family who chose to support him.

“Growing up, John Bickford and Jeff Gordon were people that my dad would talk to and I would talk to, just to get to know them all and really go through the motions,” Love said. “Alex Bowman was someone I grew up talking to very well.

“Some USAC guys like Justin Grant. Maybe even some trophy kids that you don’t talk about very often. Even a small conversation with them goes a long way at the end of the day.

Specifically, the relationship between Gordon and Love goes back to Love’s childhood. His father, Jeshil “Duke” Love, was friends with Gordon. They traveled together and competed in midgets together on the West Coast.

Love, who was 5 years old at the time, went on these trips. He rides ATVs and hangs out with big-name racers like Gordon and Grant.

Love won several quarterback midget championships before the age of 10 and began working with Toyota at the age of 12. He signed a contract at 15. But Gordon remained a key figure in his racing career. As Love gained experience, he was able to call the Hall of Famer to ask for advice.

A fitting example is Love’s first race in Phoenix. This love for the first time shows the aero and the effect it has on the car. He did not know what to expect, nor the Duke.

Love managed to call Gordon.

“If the driver has the ability to call Jeff Gordon and Jeff Gordon is willing to take your call and spend an hour on the phone with you talking about aero and the impact of the car and how to use it and the damage to another driver, the confidence it brings to that driver is immeasurable and incalculable,” he said. Duke told NBC Sports.

Bickford, Gordon’s stepfather, a person who both love and his father pointed to as the motivation for this development. Bickford had several conversations with Duke early on and let Love know the steps he needed to take to prepare for the spotlight.

“John was very influential,” Duke said. He said, “Hey, it should be ready for TV when it comes. And you’ve got to get him to sit down and work with people who are good on TV. He needs to sit down and work.

“‘You have to come up with the top 20 interview questions and have Jesse write them down and have someone put a microphone in his face so that he’s ready to write them down and basically have the answers ready to go.'”

Bickford’s advice also focused on outside influences. He tells the Duke to keep his son away from people who do not have high moral character.

This was a noteworthy point considering that Love moved from California to North Carolina after receiving his contract from Toyota at age 15. The family could not take it with him and move around the country. They could not send him alone.

Enter Dustin Edge, the bottom dirt analyst for Toyota Racing. Edge started working as Love’s driver relations manager when the young racer was just 10 years old.

Edge moved to North Carolina with Love and served as a guiding light until Love turned 18 this year. Love helped prepare him for adulthood and the essential parts of getting through the week—doing laundry, cleaning the house, and making lunch.

“(Dustin) was truly God-sent to be Jesse’s driver relations manager,” Duke said. “Dustin was a big brother to Jesse. A big brother.”

Living arrangements have changed. Edge went to Toyota. Love is now a veteran with a full-time Xfinity deal in front of him and impressive ARCA success behind him.

This move to the Xfinity Series and Richard Childress Racing was the latest development. Sheldon Creed announced his departure From the organization in early October. Two weeks later RCR announced that Love will take over Number 2.

RCR Vice President of Racing Andy Petrie said the organization was taking a chance by signing Love on such short notice. This is what he is willing to take after meeting the young racer for the first time.

“When I told my wife we ​​were interviewing a new driver, she asked, ‘… what did you think of him?'” Petrie told NBC Sports in Martinsville. ‘He’s young, he’s got this confidence about him, but he’s almost confident, almost everything you want in someone like that,’ I said. I’m excited about what’s to come.”

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