Love Leads All The Way At New Smyrna

Love Leads All
Jesse Love poses in victory lane at New Smyrna Speedway. (Jason Reasin photo)

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – One night after a 15-year-old scored his maiden victory in super late model competition at New Smyrna Speedway, another 15-year-old followed the same lead.

California’s Jesse Love joined his East Coast counterpart, Sammy Smith, as a winner during the World Series of Asphalt with an emphatic victory on night two of the nine-day event at the Florida half-mile.

Both are development drivers under the Toyota Racing Development umbrella – Smith with Kyle Busch Motorsports and Love with a variety of teams on both the dirt and the pavement.

Love is racing with Wimmer Motorsports during Florida Speedweeks and on Saturday night, there was no stopping the Menlo Park, Calif., young gun from rocketing into the winner’s circle.

Taking the lead off the initial green flag from Colin Garrett, Love led the entire distance of the 35-lapper for his breakthrough victory in a super late model, after back-to-back junior late model track championships at Madera (Calif.) Speedway in 2017 and 2018.

A caution with two laps to go, after a crash involving Jett Noland, Vincent Staggs and Anthony Sergi, set up a late-race restart that could have changed the complexion of things.

Love made sure that didn’t happen, however, and drove away after nailing the final restart.

“That late caution sucked a lot,” Love said. “I’m not going to lie. I kind of figured it would happen, though. That’s what happens when things are going well. I wasn’t the happiest inside of the car, but it worked out nice tonight. My spotter Branden (Lines) kept me calm, cool and collected.”

After losing out on a potential win one night earlier due to clutch issues, runner-up Derek Griffith admitted he simply got outclassed by Love during the Saturday night event.

“I just spun the tires,” Griffith said. “We came from sixth and raced pretty hard there with (Garrett) and (Smith) and burned my right rear up a little bit. That’s what happens when everyone runs this hard in a 35-lap race. I spun the tires on the restart and he just got the jump on me.

“I wanted to get myself clear on the top side, but he took off.”

Brad May completed the podium, while a major defensive-driving effort by Colin Garrett netted him a fourth-place finish over Gulf Coast veteran Augie Grill.

Friday winner Sammy Smith, Ryan Moore, Anthony Sergi, Jake Garcia and Justin Mondeik completed the top 10 at the finish.

As for Love? He’ll finish out the World Series in Chris Wimmer’s No. 21 car and also race in the ARCA Menards East opener on Monday night at New Smyrna for Bill McAnally Racing, part of a full slate of ARCA events with the stalwart West Coast operation on tap for Love through the course of the year.

His enthusiasm was infectious following his victory on Saturday, however.

“Hopefully we can keep this rolling in the ARCA race and keep this momentum up,” Love said. “It should be a fun weekend and week two.

“Who knows? If we can keep this going, maybe we can get a championship under our belts.”

The finish:

Jesse Love, Derek Griffith, Brad May, Colin Garrett, Augie Grill, Sammy Smith, Ryan Moore, Anthony Sergi, Jake Garcia, Justin Mondeik, Austin MacDonald, David Rogers, Max Calles-McDonald, Patrick Thomas, David Green, Kyle Sieg, Jett Noland, Trey Bayne, Vincent Staggs, Steve Weaver Jr.