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Race report
ARCA Chicagoland

Love bumps Zilisch on last lap to win ARCA race at Watkins Glen

Jesse Love nudged race leader Connor Zilisch out of the way as they exited the final turn in overtime to win Friday’s ARCA Menards Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

Jesse Love, TRICON Garage, Safelite Toyota Tundra

Zilisch dominated the event, leading 34 of the 42 laps, but a late-race caution for a wreck set up a wild finish as it began to rain.

ARCA allowed teams to pit for wet weather tires prior to a one-lap overtime and most did, but three drivers stayed out on slick tires and Kris Wright took over the lead on the overtime restart.

Zilisch, who had a broken sway bar, quickly powered to the lead on the restart but as he entered the final turn, Love got to Zilisch’s inside, the two banged fenders and Love edged Zilisch by 0.195 seconds to take the win.

 

The victory is Love’s eighth of the 2023 season and 10th of his career but first on a road course.

“I look like a blind dog drinking a smoothie on a road course I feel like,” Love said. “I just kind of calmed down after I fell to fourth.

“Hats off to Connor Zilisch. I hope he doesn’t think it was dirty. It was borderline – obviously I had to do something. But I felt like he left the door open for me to do something. Connor was the class of the field tonight.

“I just wanted it so damn bad.”

Zilisch ended up as runner-up in his first series start. The 17-year-old native of Mooresville, N.C., has competed most recently in the Trans Am2 and Mazda MX-5 series.

Brent Crews finished third, William Sawalich was fourth and Dale Quarterley rounded out the top five.

Zilisch showed his dominance early. He started second, lost the position to Love on the start, then ran him down to reclaim the spot.

Once back to second, Zilisch made up more than three seconds to pass then-leader Corey LaJoie and moved out to a more than five-second lead before a caution for debris bunched the field back up.

With just over 10 laps remaining, Zilisch appeared to have damaged or broken the sway bar on his No. 28 Chevrolet, which periodically spit out sparks as he navigated the turns.

Jack Wood, driving for Rev Racing, looped his No. 6 Chevrolet around coming off the exit of Turn 1 on lap 36 and hit the retaining wall which brought out a caution just as light rain began to fall.

 

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