Race Weekend Central

John Hunter Nemechek Wins Final Xfinity Race Before Auto Club Revamp

John Hunter Nemechek notched his first win for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunday night (Feb. 26), one week after winding up the unlucky second-place finisher last week at Daytona International Speedway. The Auto Club Speedway triumph marked Nemechek’s first in NXS since the fall of 2021.

Spurning a burnout in place of a classic victory wave, Nemechek was still elated about the win. He held off a late charge from Sam Mayer, who finished second, and a good restart by Justin Allgaier, who wound up in third for the second straight week. Chandler Smith and Josh Berry rounded out the top-five finishers.

“This whole [No.] 20 team gave me one heck of a racecar,” Nemechek told FOX Sports. “This Toyota Supra was as fast as Xfinity 10G, actually I think it was faster. Huge shout out to all the guys who work on this [No.] 20 team. I think a lot of guys doubted (crew chief) Ben [Beshore] and to have him on the box and establish the relationship I have with him has been awesome.”

The action for much of the evening mirrored the Cup Series race earlier in the day, as the Xfinity drivers took each other multiple lanes wide to advance position all race long. Mayer tried to take advantage of that, pushing forward on the final restart to race for the victory with less than 10 to go.

It wasn’t to be, although the runner-up result left the teenager pumped up about his second full-time season with JR Motorsports.

“I’m super proud of my JRM Accelerate team,” Mayer said. “We struggled early on, that’s for sure and had our work cut out for us, but we threw the kitchen sink at it and ended up second. All things considered, I’m really happy and proud of these guys.”

It’s a vast improvement for Mayer, who ended last week’s race sliding on his roof down the backstretch at Daytona.

See also
Sam Mayer Can 'Taste That 1st Win' After Runner-Up Result at Auto Club Speedway

Further down the running order, Austin Hill followed up his Daytona win with a sixth-place finish at Auto Club while Riley Herbst was seventh. Austin Dillon salvaged eighth from a difficult night after running top 10 in the Cup Series race earlier Sunday. Brett Moffitt had an impressive ninth-place run while Parker Kligerman rounded out the top 10.

The dominant car early in the race belonged to Cole Custer, who was the defending race winner. Custer swept both stages and looked poised for a big points day and possibly a win. It wasn’t meant to be, however, for the former Cup driver as an incident involving Dillon caused Custer to finish 27th.

The driver of the No. 00 Ford Mustang has looked strong in both of his starts in his return to the series this season, but hasn’t been able to put the results together.

Contenders Brandon Jones and Sheldon Creed also found trouble early. Creed had the wildest ride of the night, going for a spin down the backstretch that could have ended in hard contact with the outside wall.

Instead, it became the save of the night.

Jones was not so lucky. JRM’s newest acquisition struggled with the handling of the Menards No. 9 all race long, also losing multiple laps due to changing the battery on his Chevrolet. Once Jones recovered, getting back onto the lead lap, it really went sideways for him after tangling with Tyler Reddick. The front end of Jones’ car was completely crooked and he had to settle for a disappointing 33rd.

See also
Xfinity Breakdown: Nemechek Wins as Sun Sets on Auto Club Speedway

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will return next weekend, racing their third event of 2023 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Alsco Uniforms 300 is scheduled to run on Saturday, March 4 at 4:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by FOX Sports 1.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Production Alliance Group 300 Results

About the author

Garrett joined Frontstretch as a news writer in 2023, and became a fantasy racing and betting writer in 2024. Hailing from the heart of coal country in southern West Virginia,  he's a married father of three and currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at New River Community Technical College in Beaver, WV. He has been a racing fan since 1998, primarily watching NASCAR, but branching out to F1 and IndyCar as his love for motorsports has grown.

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