Rookie sensation Jesse Love raced to the pole in Friday qualifying for the RAPTOR King of Tough 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Love, 19 from Menlo Park, Calif., set the pace during both rounds of qualifying on the 1.54-mile speedway in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevy. He opened with a best lap of 173.532 mph (31.948 seconds) and then claimed his second consecutive pole of the season by bettering his initial effort with a 173.935 mph lap in round two.

This is the second-straight pole for Love, who claimed the top spot in qualifying at Daytona last weekend. He becomes the first Xfinity Series driver in NASCAR history to open the season with consecutive poles.

“It’s really cool to break a few records,” Love said. “The biggest thing about that is it speaks volumes about how good our team is. It’s awesome that we have another good shot at it tomorrow. My car drove really good at Daytona and tomorrow I’m going to air on the side of caution until crunch time. Our (RCR) cars are really good. Hopefully we can get out front and set the pace and then get in position to get the win.”

It will be Love’s first race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the rookie says he is ready for the challenge in the 163-lap race on the ultra-fast speedway.

“I try not to overthink things and go by the seat of my pants and have that sprint car mindset,” said Love, who dominated the ARCA Menards Series last year. “At the same time, Austin (Hill) has been the best teammate I’ve ever had so far. It is going to be a little cooler tomorrow so the pack is going to be tighter. Hopefully we can win the first stage and then bide my time in the next stage after I lose track position and then be ready to go when it’s crunch time and I know what I’ve got.”

He will be joined on the front row by teammate Austin Hill when the green flag drops at 5 p.m. (FS1 and PRN Radio). Hill, who qualified second in his No. 21 RCR Chevy with a 173.935 mph effort, will be looking to open the season with back-to-back victories after winning last weekend’s season-opening race in Daytona.

John Hunter-Nemechek qualified third in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing machine and Riley Herbst will start fourth in his No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

Defending Xfinity Series champ Cole Custer qualified 11th in his No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing machine with a best lap of 171.864 mph.

Other notable qualifiers included Shane Van Gisbergen at 13th in his No. 97 Weather Tech Chevrolet, and Hailie Deegan at 19th in her No. 15 AM Racing machine.

Saturday’s race schedule at Atlanta Motor Speedway also includes qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 (11:30 a.m., FS1, PRN Radio) and the running of the Fr 208 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race (2 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio). Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 is scheduled to take the green flag at 3 p.m. (FOX and PRN Radio).

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