CONCORD, N.C. — ARCA Menards Series West point leader Jesse Love will climb aboard a Venturini Motorsports entry for the first time during Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series stop at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway.
Love, from Menlo Park, Calif., will pilot the No. 20 JBL Toyota Camry for ARCA’s all-time winningest organization in the Toyota 200 presented by Crosley Brands.
Winchester will mark Love’s fourth ARCA Menards Series appearance of the season. His previous three starts came for Bill McAnally Racing, the team he races for in ARCA West action.
While he knows Saturday night’s race will be arguably the biggest stage he’s stepped onto so far, Love is eager to work with the Venturini crew and believes he’ll have the equipment and support behind him to contend for victory at the historic half-mile track.
“I really do believe that we’ll have a shot,” Love told SPEED SPORT when reached by phone Monday afternoon. “That’s the plan, at least, and I know that this team is definitely capable of doing that and that we’ll be able to do run up front. We have such a great team, and the (No.) 20 car has been really dominant this year; Chandler (Smith) has obviously proven that, and so have Corey (Heim) and Ryan (Repko) when they’ve been in it too. They’ve obviously done some really great things and Billy (Venturini) knows what he’s doing and how to put it in victory lane.
“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point and I’ve prepared really well for this race,” Love added. “That process isn’t done; I’ll continue to prepare even more before Saturday, but I think that we can put ourselves in a position to end up in victory lane, for sure. There’s not a doubt my mind. I just want to say thank you to JBL, Toyota, TRD, Billy and everyone at Venturini Motorsports for this opportunity.
“We’re ready to rock Saturday and see where we stack up.”
Love also credited his earlier ARCA starts with BMR in 2020 as “pretty big confidence builders” and feels that experience can only benefit him during his Winchester debut.
“It’s very important that I’ve had those races, for different reasons,” Love noted. “I think the biggest thing, for me, is that now I understand how to race and how they race at that level. I’d say I got a little bit of a preface, if you will, on running at that level. I like it a lot, though, and I think it definitely gives me a bit of an advantage that I might not have had otherwise.
“Overall I think that experience will come into play very well, and at the end of the day, laps are laps, right? I’ve never ran at Winchester, but I’ve run those other ARCA races and it’s going to be very important to take all the notes and all of the lessons that I’ve learned from racing on these bigger tracks and put as much as I can into practice at Winchester Saturday night.”
Love has three wins in seven ARCA West starts this season and hasn’t finished worse than fourth in that division, giving him a seven-point lead in the standings over Blaine Perkins.
That kind of pedigree and performance has team owner Billy Venturini optimistic about Love’s chances at Winchester and the overall speed the young driver will lend to the organization.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Jesse,” Venturini said. “I tested him last year during the combine that Toyota Racing Development put on, and Jesse was a standout immediately. He’s obviously done a lot over the last couple of years with Toyota and we’re really excited for the opportunity to work with him. He’s shown a ton of talent in everything he’s driven and has a lot of speed. I think there’s a lot there to build on with him.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday night and I think it’ll be a good first race for Jesse. Hopefully it’ll be the start of a good while for him here at Venturini Motorsports.”
Saturday’s Toyota 200 presented by Crosley Brands is scheduled to take the green flag shortly after 7 p.m. ET, with live television coverage on MAVTV and NBC Sport Gold’s TrackPass platform.