Teenager Jesse Love Proving to Be a Sponge for Knowledge in NASCAR Xfinity Series

auto apr 13 nascar xfinity series andy's frozen custard 300
Teenager Jesse Love Proving to Be a NASCAR SpongeIcon Sportswire - Getty Images
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie Jesse Love is trying to learn the sport as quickly as he can.

  • The 19-year-old RCR racer and 2023 ARCA Menards Series champion questions Austin Dillon the most, and he talks with NASCAR champion Kyle Busch at least once a week.

  • Love has bypassed a year in the NASCAR Truck Series to compete in Xfinity, and he's on the fast track to the Cup Series.

Jesse Love was unstoppable en route to his 2023 ARCA Menards Series championship, and this year in his inaugural season in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series he’s already recorded two top-five and five top-10 finishes and three poles in the first eight races.


The 19-year-old Richard Childress Racing driver’s early season success could be attributed to the fact he’s absorbing racing information in a sponge-like manner. He questions Austin Dillon the most, but he also talks with NASCAR champion Kyle Busch at least once a week. He constantly asks questions, reaching out to anyone at RCR that he believes can help him improve his profession.

During the recent Texas Motor Speedway race, he even asked teammate Austin Hill a question during the event.

“My spotter came over the radio … I think it was Stage 2 in the race and Jesse had asked his spotter to ask me … what I was doing in (turns) three and four to get through the corner,” Hill recalled. “I tried to give him the feedback that I could of what I was doing that was working at the time. I tried to be as honest as I could.”

auto apr 13 nascar xfinity series andy's frozen custard 300
Jesse Love (2) made it four top-t0 finishes in a row with a ninth-place finish last week at Texas.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

Hill admits that Love’s willingness to seek information from fellow competitors has helped him open up to others rather than always seeking answers on his own.

“I’ve never been one to really reach out to a whole lot of guys,” said Hill, who was third in the standings after eight races. “Jesse’s actually made it to where it makes me want to start reaching out to Kyle more often and other guys of that nature just to ask questions … or try to be a better race car driver.”

Hill, a 30-year-old father of three, is no stranger to mentoring a young driver as he often does with Love. He helped youngsters ranging in age from eight to 14 years old when he and his brother-in-law owned a team that competed in Bandolero and Legends cars.

“(I’m) trying to give as much information to Jesse as I can to help his learning curve because I know how it is,” Hill says. “I think Jesse does a really good job at his age at reaching out and talking to people. It’s been fun doing the mentoring thing, but Jesse’s pushing me just as much as I’m pushing him to be better.”

Hill believes Love bypassing the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and going directly into the Xfinity Series from ARCA was a good move.

auto apr 13 nascar xfinity series andy's frozen custard 300
Jesse Love is fast getting a reputation of being a sponge when it comes to learning the ropes in NASCAR.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

“The trucks drive so much different than the ARCA cars and the Xfinity cars,” Hill says. “When I went from Truck, running it for three or four years, and them came to the Xfinity Series, it was a little bit of a transition for me just trying to figure out how much to lean on the right rear. How much the car is going to yaw out and things of that nature. The trucks have so much downforce and side force it’s so much different.

“With only 20 minutes of practice it goes back to the simulator sessions and the stuff he and I do together. He’s doing a really good job of watching film … watching in-car cam … and putting everything to use when he gets there (track).”

Initially, Love thought the superspeedways would be the hardest for him to learn and after the season’s first two races he would be in a “huge hole points wise and morale wise because I had no idea what to do.” Hill, who won the first two races, helped shorten Love’s learning curve and the first year RCR driver was fifth in the standings after those events.

However, every race provides Love with a valuable lesson. At Atlanta, his car ran out of fuel while he was leading because he “wasn’t thinking about an overtime finish.”

“Had I thought about there being an overtime finish, I probably would have saved more fuel,” Love says. “But I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking I’ve got 30 more laps and I’ve won this race. That was my big learning lesson from Atlanta.”

Qualifying also has been difficult for Love. He now tries to develop a rough draft game plan for his qualifying lap, and he believes he can be more aggressive. His lesson plan also includes learning to manage a race better and keeping up with the track in regard to chassis changes.

“I think I just overreact and ask for too many changes in the car,” Love says. “Managing the weekend and my balance split better will make my crew chief’s life a little bit easier. My next step is thinking more like a veteran … thinking ahead.”