Race Weekend Central

Xfinity Breakdown: John Hunter Nemechek Scores 5th Win of 2023, 200th for Gibbs

In what proved to be a historic day for his team on Saturday (Aug. 5), John Hunter Nemechek overcame an early spin to earn his fifth win of the season and the 200th NASCAR Xfinity Series win for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Cabo Wabo 250 at Michigan International Speedway.

An eventful opening 20 laps saw the eventual race winner swept up in one of several incidents, and another late caution set up an abbreviated dash to the finish that ultimately saw Nemechek prevail.

Josh Berry started from the pole, but it was his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier who shot out to the early lead as mayhem broke out behind him. The first caution on the day flew on lap 4, as Kaz Grala went for a spin off of turn 4.

See also
John Hunter Nemechek Overcomes Early Spin, Dominates Late for Xfinity Win at Michigan

It wasn’t long before the next incident. The biggest incident of the day took place on lap 10 when the three Joe Gibbs Racing cars (Nemechek, Ty Gibbs and Sammy Smith) got stacked up off the exit of turn 2, resulting in all three cars going spinning. As Smith rolled down across the track, he tagged Carson Hocevar’s No. 77 car, launching it airborne, up and over the left front of Smith’s machine. Although Smith’s day would be finished, both his teammates escaped with minimal damage and remained factors for the remainder of the afternoon. 

Yet another caution waved on lap 19 for Mason Maggio, as he got into the turn 2 wall (possibly as a result of his involvement in the prior incident with the Gibbs cars). 

While troubles seemed abundant behind him, Allgaier encountered none himself in the first stage. He cruised to the stage victory and seemed to have a dominant car. 

After the leaders pitted at the stage end, Gibbs and Nemechek cycled through to the lead. Having pitted after their lap-10 incident, they stayed out on older tires to try to salvage a set for later in the race. 

Stage 2 proved to be less eventful than stage 1, as the caution only flew once for incident when Connor Mosack turned himself across the bumper of Kyle Sieg and up into the wall toward turn 1. 

Nemechek made the pass on teammate Gibbs around halfway through the stage as some crew chiefs began to hint around at the possibility of rain. Nemechek held on to win the stage, but Allgaier affirmed that he had the fastest car. The No. 7 driver was able to charge back up to second after losing precious track position after the end of stage 1. 

Allgaier’s afternoon began to unravel, however, after the conclusion of stage 2. During the stage break’s pit cycle, he spun off the bumper of Gibbs on pit road. Allgeier made yet another charge through the field, only for his herculean effort to again be undone on pit road — this because of a penalty for his team going over the wall too soon on his final green-flag pitstop.

With his main competitor removed from the picture, Nemechek appeared to be on his way to a smooth cruise to victory before a late caution came out for Patrick Emerling, who blew a tire and impacted the turn 2 wall with 13 laps remaining. 

Nemechek survived the late restart and outlasted Berry to seal a historic victory for his JGR team.

Winners

This weekend proved to be a roaring success for Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing as an organization. Nemechek’s victory represented the 200th for the organization, and JHN was able to gain crucial ground on Austin Hill in the battle for the regular season championship. 

Hill, who encountered transmission issues on the last green-flag pit cycle, was only able to salvage an 11th-place finish, allowing Nemechek to close in on him in the points standings. Nemechek entered Michigan 14 points behind Hill but the duo left the weekend tied atop the standings.

Another clear winner on the weekend was Brandon Jones and the JRM No. 9 team. After having struggled mightily for the majority of the season to date, Jones was able to score stage points in both stages Saturday and bring home a third-place finish. Although he likely finds himself too far removed from the cut line to point his way into the playoffs, Jones certainly did wonders for his team in helping seize momentum for a possible playoff push. 

Riley Herbst, another playoff hopeful in need of a good run, managed to stay clean all day and bring home a top-10 finish for his Stewart-Haas Racing team. As the Xfinity Series inches closer to the postseason, this is just the sort of performance Herbst’s No. 98 team will be looking for. 

Losers

In spite of having the fastest car, Allgaier only managed a 14th-place finish after his bid for victory was done in by several mistakes late in the going. Although Allgeier has already secured a playoff spot, this race will stand as a missed opportunity. His team failed to convert a dominant car into a victory and gain more playoff points. Not to mention he could’ve closed the gap between himself, Hill and Nemechek for the points lead. 

Speaking of Hill, he entered today’s event with an advantage of 14 markers over Nemechek in the chase for the regular season championship. With Hill’s problems and Nemechek’s success, Hill saw his lead evaporate in the rolling hills of Brooklyn, Michigan, this weekend. Although this setback pails in comparison to the roaring success his season as a whole has been, Hill and his team must view this weekend as some sort of a loss. 

Scheme of the Week

Berry hit the track this week in a sleek new scheme carrying the red, black and yellow colors of LubeZone Truck Lube Centers. The bright colors served Berry well, as he scored the pole and brought home a runner-up finish in this striking scheme. 

Fuel for Thought

With Allgaier having the dominant car on the day and Berry, Jones and Sam Mayer having solid runs, it appears that JR Motorsports may finally be hitting its stride. Although the result of the race was yet another Gibbs victory, JRM must be optimistic about the speed it showed this weekend. If this is, indeed, the dawn of JRM’s resurgence, it picked an excellent time to bring it on as the regular season winds to a close. 

See also
JR Motorsports Fires on All Cylinders but Falls to Nemechek at Michigan

Where to Next?

Next week, the NASCAR Xfinity Series is headed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in Speedway, Indiana, to contest the Pennzoil 150. In last year’s event at the famed track, AJ Allmendinger took the victory with Alex Bowman finishing second and Allgaier besting series regulars with a third-place effort. 

The Pennzoil 150 gets underway on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 5:30 p.m. ET. Follow the action on the USA Network along with the IMS Radio Network and Sirius XM. 

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Alright, Gibbs teams have 200 Xfinity wins. Kyle Busch has 102 Xfinity wins by himself lol

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