A central challenge for efficient auto-ignition controlled low-temperature gasoline combustion (LTGC) engines has been achieving the combustion phasing needed to reach stable performance over a wide operating regime. The negative valve overlap (NVO) strategy has been explored as a way to improve combustion stability through a combination of charge heating and altered reactivity via a recompression stroke with a pilot fuel injection. The study objective was to analyze the thermal and chemical effects on NVO-period energy recovery. The analysis leveraged experimental gas sampling results obtained from a single-cylinder LTGC engine along with cylinder pressure measurements and custom data reduction methods used to estimate period thermodynamic properties. The engine was fueled by either iso-octane or ethanol, and operated under sweeps of NVO-period oxygen concentration, injection timing, and fueling rate. Gas sampling at the end of the NVO period was performed via a custom dump-valve apparatus, with detailed sample speciation by in-house gas chromatography. The balance of NVO-period input and output energy flows was calculated in terms of fuel energy, work, heat loss, and change in sensible energy. Experiment results were complemented by detailed chemistry single-zone reactor simulations performed at relevant mixing and thermodynamic conditions, with results used to evaluate ignition behavior and expected energy recovery yields. For the intermediate bulk-gas temperatures present during the NVO period (900-1100 K), weak negative temperature coefficient behavior with iso-octane fueling significantly lengthened ignition delays relative to similar ethanol fueled conditions. Faster ethanol ignition chemistry led to lower recovered fuel intermediate yields relative to similar iso-octane fueled conditions due to more complete fuel oxidation. From the energy analysis it was found that increased NVO-period global equivalence ratio, either from lower NVO-period oxygen concentrations or higher fueling rates, in general led to a greater fraction of net recovered fuel energy and work as heat losses were minimized. These observations were supported by complementary single-zone reactor model results, which further indicated that kinetic time-scales favor chemical energy-consuming exothermic oxidation over slower endothermic reformation. Nonetheless, fuel energy recovery close to the thermodynamic equilibrium solution was achieved for baseline conditions that featured 4% NVO-period oxygen concentration.