By Richie Murray – USAC Media
SPEEDWAY, IN-Jesse Love will compete in approximately 15 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship events for CB Industries in 2023 starting this Sunday, June 4, with the USAC Indiana Midget Week opener at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt.
Love (Menlo Park, Calif.) owns one of the most diversified racing portfolios in auto racing today, having won a total of six USAC championships in Western HPD Midget competition as well as ARCA Menards Series West titles in 2020 and 2021.
The current ARCA Menards Series point leader has won the last three races over the past few weeks at superspeedways such as Talladega, Kansas and Charlotte, and is due to make his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start this Saturday at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill.
In between his forays in stocks and trucks, the 18-year-old Love will take on a part-time schedule of USAC National Midget racing for the Chad Boat-owned team in car No. 84 sponsored by HomeSmiles. First, Love will take on the full seven-race USAC Indiana Midget Week slate, plus the first two races of Mid-America Midget Week in July and the entire west coast season-ending swing in November.
Love previously made five USAC National Midget feature starts for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports in 2020, finishing a best of 11th at Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex. More recently, he’s competed in midgets and micros on dirt sporadically with success
but is ready to be back in USAC competition for the first time in nearly three seasons.
“I’ve been in competitive cars before, but it will be fun having Chad (Boat) helping me out,” Love stated. “I took two years off from dirt and just went and ran as much pavement stuff as I could to get my foot in the door of the NASCAR world, and that’s really taken off now. I feel really confident about it, and we should be strong. Hopefully, we’ll be able to contend each night.”
It’s a unique schedule for Love who’ll be plying his trade, quite literally, in fendered machines one night and open wheel the next. With that said, he possesses extensive experience in both and is ready to take on the challenge of bouncing between multiple disciplines.
“It’s tough for sure,” Love acknowledges. “But, last year, when I got back into a midget for the first time in two years, we were pretty fast every night, and the micro stuff has kind of helped me stay sharp. I’ve worked really hard on driving as much stuff as I can. I think that’s really helping me out now at getting better in every aspect of racing.”
Love has experienced first hand what a meat grinder the USAC National Midget circuit can be while running a partial schedule for KKM in 2020. He described it as “tough,” “stout” and “hard to win.” It’s an undertaking that he believes has made him a better overall racecar driver in all realms. It’s part of the reason he does it. Not only does he love racing an array of machinery, but he also believes the seat time makes him better in any discipline he jumps into.
Between 2015-17, Love racked up a total of six USAC driving titles on the west coast: 2015 Western Restricted HPD Midget, 2016 Western HPD Midget Overall & Dirt, 2017 Western U.S. Overall, Dirt & Pavement. Although he continues to pile up wins as he makes his move up the NASCAR ladder, a USAC National Midget victory would be truly special to him.
“Honestly, I’d trade out some of my ARCA wins for a USAC win,” Love stated. “That would be one of the biggest wins of my career. What I want to do is be a guy like Kyle Larson or Christopher Bell who can get into any type of car, and no matter what it is, they can run well in it. I would love to win some midget races, especially the Turkey Night Grand Prix or any of the races during Indiana Midget Week. Those are huge races that are hard to win and are pretty prestigious. If I can just win one of them, it would be one that I would cherish a lot.”
2023 USAC INDIANA MIDGET WEEK SCHEDULE:
Sunday, June 4: Tri-State Speedway – Haubstadt, IN
Monday, June 5: Circle City Raceway – Indianapolis, IN
Wednesday, June 7: Gas City I-69 Speedway – Gas City, IN
Thursday, June 8: Lincoln Park Speedway – Putnamville, IN
Friday, June 9: Bloomington Speedway – Bloomington, IN
Saturday, June 10: Lawrenceburg Speedway – Lawrenceburg, IN
Sunday, June 11: Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, IN