Editor’s Note: Jesse Love, 14, is a multi-faceted driver, competing in his rookie season in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League, as well as in 360 winged sprint cars.
Love will be sharing his racing experiences with Sprint Car & Midget subscribers while competing throughout the season. This week, he is driving the Harley VanDyke No. 5h sprint car during the Western Sprint Tour’s annual Northwest Speedweek.
Below is his newest diary entry, recapping Friday night’s Speedweek round at Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore.
COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. – We’ve had a pretty solid Northwest Speedweek with the Western Sprint Tour, but last night was the closest I feel like we’ve been to actually winning a race.
First off, it was great to be back at a track we’d already seen earlier in the week, because we could lean on the notes we had from Wednesday night to have a solid baseline setup already in place.
We started off the night really strong, qualifying sixth and making the dash, where we ended up running second to earn the outside pole for the A-main!
That was one of those moments where I just had to stop for a minute and take it all in. After all, I’m not too far into my sprint car career to begin with, so to have that kind of an opportunity to start up front was a really big deal for me and for our whole team.
We rolled off second in the main to Kyle Hirst, who’s a wheelman and one of the best drivers in a sprint car on this side of the country. It was a big moment, but I wasn’t even that nervous, to be honest. I was just focused on getting a good start and staying with him as well as I could.
After that, things were mostly positive. We ran inside the top five for most of the race, but at the end the track took rubber. I haven’t really been on rubber-down race tracks much yet in my career, so it took me a few laps to figure out what was going on and how to race in those conditions.
The key to racing a rubber-down groove is simple, hammer down! You basically just have to drive the car really hard, and keep your tire spin up as much as possible. However, I also learned to manage the tires tonight and make sure you save some tire for the end – that was something I didn’t do too well Friday night.
Because we were running out of tire at the end, we dropped back in the order and finished seventh, but the good news there was that it was our third top-10 finish of the week. On top of that, I learned a really great lesson this week on how to run a rubber-down race track so I’m happy to keep improving.
We ran up front for a long time, and I feel like I’ve put all the pieces to win together. Now that I know how to run on a rubber-down race track I know that we are getting even closer to that win!
It’s an awesome feeling, contending for the win in only my 11th start in a sprint car, especially against some of the best in the business.
This winged sprint car season is starting to look really good!
We won’t be back for the finale at Cottage Grove tonight; we’re going to run a midget back home at Madera, but I’m excited for the future as we keep pushing with this No. 5h team!
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