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 Thursday night’s Speedweek round at Sunset Speedway Park in Banks, Ore.
BANKS, Ore. – After two really good races for our No. 5h team to open Northwest Speedweek, Thursday night’s race at Sunset Speedway Park didn’t exactly turn out like we hoped it would.
It’s not that we had a horrible night; it’s just that we didn’t have the kind of performance that we all wanted to have after the pair of top-10 finishes we opened the week with on Monday and Wednesday.
We started off the night strong, running second-fastest in hot laps and sixth-quick in qualifying. It was a definite improvement and my best qualifying run of the week so far, and that’s something I was really happy about, considering that qualifying is an area that we’ve been wanting to improve in a bit.
After our heat race, we ended up starting the feature from 10th, and early in the race we charged toward the front and we knocking on the door of the top five in sixth place. The problem is, the second half of the race and the way the conditions changed didn’t suit our car as well as some others.
As the race got later and later, we didn’t have the drive off that we needed, and that hurt us deep in the run and ultimately dropped us back outside the top 10 at the finish.
While it wasn’t the result on paper that we’d hoped for, we still found some positives to take away from Sunset, particularly as a team. As my familiarity with this type of car has improved throughout the week, so has my ability to communicate with Harley and my crew members to relay to them what I need.
We realized after this race that we have to run a tighter setup for the end of the race, in order for me to have the car driving the way that I need it to in order to better make passes and advance forward. It’s more about communicating and making sure I have what I need than a lack of being able to set the car up properly, and we realize that those are things that will just continue to get better as we jell as a team.
Friday night’s goal as we come back to Cottage Grove will be to adjust on our setup so that we’re stronger at the end of the feature than we have been the last couple of races. If we can do that, I think we’ll have a shot at opening some more eyes and getting back close to the top five again.
We’re 11th in Speedweek points right now with two nights to go, but I definitely think that we have a chance to crack the top 10 and stay there by the end of the weekend on Saturday – and if we can do that, against the competition we’ve been racing against all week, I’d say it’s a definite feather in our cap.
As always, I’m confident in my team’s ability to make the shifts that we need to make to get better, just like they believe in me to get all I can out of the car when I hit the race track.
We’ll get back at it tonight and see what we can do!
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