TALLADEGA, Ala. — After failing to win the last two superspeedway races on the ARCA Menards Series schedule, Venturini Motorsports is officially back on top.
At the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota, in just his second start on a superspeedway, 18-year-old Jesse Love powered past Andres Perez de Lara after a restart with seven laps to go in Saturday’s General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway. He held off his Venturini teammate Gus Dean to earn his first victory of the season.
The driver from Menlo Park, California said he approached Saturday’s race differently than he did the opening race of the season at Daytona International Speedway in February, when he finished seventh.
“I got yelled at at Daytona by my spotter Tyler Monn,” Love said. “He told me to just stay level-headed. You don’t win races getting worked up. I couldn’t believe it was the white flag. I was still calm, and he did a great job ensuring they couldn’t get a run.”
Love dominated the early part of the race after taking the lead at the start of the 76-lap event, but pit strategy near the halfway mark cycled him out of the lead.
He slowly worked his way back to the front and was running second behind Perez de Lara with 12 laps left when Caleb Costner crashed after the right-front tire on his No. 93 failed in Turns 3-4.
The race resumed with seven laps remaining, and Perez de Lara and Love restarted on the front row. The pair raced side-by-side through Turns 1-2, but Love got the edge going down the backstretch thanks to a push from his teammate Dean.
Love led the remainder of the race to earn his third career ARCA Menards Series victory as he chases his first series championship in 2023.
“I love Talladega. I was here last year on the spotter stand with watching Tyler win with Noah [Gragson],” Love said. “My mom doesn’t get to come to a lot of races. She’s always back home supporting our family. This was the one race she really wanted to come to. She was my biggest inspiration today to win.”
Dean, who scored his first ARCA Menards Series victory at Talladega in 2016, settled for second. He said he didn’t have enough help pushing Love to really get a run on his teammate on the final lap.
“These Venturini cars, in my opinion, are the four strongest cars in the field,” Dean said. “For 75 laps, the teammate situation is the greatest tool that we have. But that last lap is really hard to get done, especially when you have a driver like Jesse and equipment just as good as yours and not a ton of help from behind.”
Bret Holmes, the 2020 ARCA Menards Series champion from nearby Munford, Alabama, finished third at his home track in what is scheduled to be his only ARCA start of the season. Perez de Lara finished fourth for Rev Racing in his first superspeedway race, with Sean Corr finishing fifth.
Jack Wood, Taylor Gray, Scott Melton, Frankie Muniz and Jason White completed the top 10.
Greg Van Alst, who won the opening race of the season at Daytona and entered the General Tire 200 as the ARCA Menards Series championship leader, crashed on Lap 16 and finished 32nd.
The 2023 ARCA Menards Series season resumes at 2 p.m. ET on May 6 when the series visits Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, for the running of the Dawn 150. Fans unable to attend in person will be able to watch live on FS1 or the Fox Sports App.