From Brandon White | ARCA
LONG POND, Pa. — A trip to the Pocono Mountains was the recovery Jesse Love needed following a frustrating outing the week prior at Iowa Speedway.
Love properly returned to the efficient form he displayed in the opening portion of the 2023 ARCA Menards Series season by dominating the Sunset Hill Shooting Range 150 at Pocono Raceway on Saturday morning for his fifth victory in 10 races on the year.
RELATED: Complete race results from Pocono
The extra time to mentally prepare for the race after a rainout Friday evening proved to be beneficial for Love, who was eager to rebound from narrowly missing out on the General Tire Pole to his teammate Dean Thompson.
“I was bummed out about yesterday,” Love said. “I missed the pole to a teammate, and that’s something that neither me nor my guys wanted. We went to work and I didn’t mind the rain delay, because it let me do some more homework on starts and restarts, which I wasn’t 100 percent sure on.”
Love’s victory proved to be cathartic after he had to grind out a third-place run at Iowa with an ill-handing car that plagued him all weekend.
The only issue for Love on Saturday morning was his briefly losing the lead to Andres Perez de Lara when he got held up by a slower car. Love passed Perez de Lara back on a restart and did not surrender the lead for the rest of the race.
With his win, Love became the 32nd different Pocono winner in the last 32 ARCA Menards Series events at the facility. That list features several notable names that include 10-time champion Frank Kimmel, Tim Steele, Bob Schacht, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Ty Gibbs and many more.
Love’s victory was also a nice present for his car owner Bill Venturini, who was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife Cathy this weekend and had encouraged his five crew chiefs on hand for Pocono to bring home a win to celebrate the occasion.
“I have to give credit to all my guys at the shop,” Venturini said. “This week was the worst with the hours and the work, but my guys pulled through. We made it through the weather last night and all five of our cars were in the top 10. I can’t complain at all, and I’m proud of everybody.”
For Love, whose seven career ARCA Menards Series victories have all come at different tracks, he was concerned the bad luck that hindered him at Iowa would reappear at the end of the Sunset Hill Shooting Range 150.
With several slower cars and a developing mechanical issue to deal with, Love kept his focus on the track in front of him to cap off a perfect morning. Now that he has momentum back on his side, Love’s resolve remains strong as he looks to keep building on his advantage in the ARCA Menards Series point standings.
“We had something going on, and I was losing a little bit of power down the straightaway during the last two laps,” Love said. “I was scratching my head, but that’s why I went as hard as I did during that last stint. I wanted to get lapped cars and small mechanical stuff out of the equation.
“When your car is that fast, it’s easy to just drive away.”
Connor Mosack finished second to Love in the Sunset Hill Shooting Range 150, with Perez de Lara, Thompson and Conner Jones rounding out the top five.
Toni Breidinger, Andy Jankowiak, Cody Coughlin, Christian Rose and Jake Finch were the rest of the top-10 finishers.
The ARCA Menards Series gets a couple weeks off before returning to action at Michigan International Speedway for the Henry Ford Health 200 on Aug. 4. The green flag will fly at 6 p.m. ET, with FS1 and FloRacing providing coverage.
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Photo's: ARCA Menards Series | Alex Daus | Jesse Love