Love dominated much of Friday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway but a late-race caution sent up a two-lap overtime and a critical decision for the lead-lap cars – to pit for new tires or not.
All but two cars decided to pit, including Love, who lined up third on the start to overtime.
Love’s No. 20 Toyota quickly powered to the lead on the restart and held off Dean Thompson by 0.223 seconds to earn his third win in five starts this season and fifth of his career.
“Huge thank you to everyone for this opportunity. I never won here, even when I was racing Legends cars,” Love said. “Man, that (late) caution came out and I tried to stay calm.
“I have a great spotter up there in Tyler Monn keeping calm, cool and collected. I didn’t really get worked up. I’ve just got the baddest (crew chief) in the garage (Shannon Rush).”
Asked about the call to have Love pit for new tires on the last caution, Rush said, “I know how much tires mean and I knew if I could get a couple guys to follow us down (pit road), we had a good car and the best driver in the field.”
Taylor Gray finished third, Grant Enfinger was fourth and Andy Jankowiak rounded out the top-five.
Following the halfway break, Love led the way followed by Jack Wood and Gus Dean.
A spin by Stephanie Moyer brought out a caution with five of the originally scheduled 100 laps remaining and sent most of the lead-lap cars down pit road for new tires.
Christian Rose and Tony Cosentino stayed out on older tires and inherited the front row at the start of overtime with Love lining up third on the restart.