Speed Week Diary: Rain And A Podium Finish

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Jesse Love (right) earned a podium finish at Jacksonville Speedway on Friday night. (Brendon Bauman photo)

Editor’s Note: Jesse Love, 14, is a rookie in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League. From June 13 through June 17, Love will be sharing his experiences with SPEED SPORT subscribers while competing during Illinois Speed Week. 

Love drives the No. 97k Toyota-powered midget for Keith Kunz Motorsports. Below is his third diary entry, recapping Friday night’s events at Jacksonville Speedway in Jacksonville, Ill.

Jesse Love.

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. – Friday night’s POWRi race at Jacksonville Speedway was a huge boost of confidence for me, as we scored a podium finish in just my third race with Keith Kunz Motorsports!

It was pretty bittersweet, though. We got the make-up feature in from the POWRi race that was rained out back in April, but Mother Nature came back and got us before we could run the actual Illinois Speed Week race at the end of the night.

Starting up front in the make-up race was a really good way to start the night, as we lined up fifth from the grid back in April, but on the initial start I knew I couldn’t sleep on the wheel because of guys like Cannon (McIntosh), (Jerry) Coons (Jr.), (Tanner) Thorson, (Zach) Daum and more all right behind me.

In the first couple of laps, I rolled the bottom and got up to third after Cannon bobbled on a restart in front of me at lap eight, but then a yellow came out for another car flipping in turn three and I knew that the field was gonna be close.

We hit lap traffic with a few laps to go, which was pretty fun to maneuver as well, and ultimately held off Cannon at the end to stay on the podium!

Even though I had been at Jacksonville before for a weekly show, the track was different than it had been before and because of the rain, it was pretty hooked up. However, running there before, I had to move through the field, which definitely helped me pass people.

Jesse Love in action at Jacksonville Speedway. (Brendon Bauman photo)

We were setting up for the second feature well too, with locking into the feature through our heat race before showers knocked out the rest of the program before our B main. We were going to start 13th and I really think we would have had a shot to move forward.

However, the weather had other ideas. To be honest, I’m really getting bored with the rain refrain every single night; I really hope as we get deeper into the summer, we can actually get some more races in and keep building a rapport as a team. If we can, I think we’ll be really strong!

To finish third on Friday is really solid, but I’m not going to be satisfied until we are on top of the podium. We have equipment that’s capable of being there and I want to give Keith (Kunz) and Pete (Willoughby) a victory in return for their belief in me.

I’m super grateful to have the opportunity that I have right now and this was one of the best nights of racing I’ve ever had! I’m looking forward to the next one!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Saturday’s scheduled Illinois Speed Week round at Macon Speedway has been canceled due to heavy rainfall.

Read Love’s prior entries at the links below:

Entry No. 1: Jesse Love Raring To Go!

Entry No. 2: Solid Start For Love