John Hunter Nemechek took the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway to win the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 today, locking himself into the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs Round of 8. It marks Nemechek’s seventh win of the season, the most of any driver in the top-three national touring series this year.
“I knew that I had to push hard and try and recover right there and hats off to this twenty team and Joe Gibbs Racing, it is absolutely amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish this year and I don’t think we’re done yet, that’s for sure,” Nemechek said in an emotional post-race interview. “We set a lot of goals, this No. 20 team coming into this year and still have yet to accomplish all of those.”
While Nemechek showed speed all day, it was Justin Allgaier who swept both stages and dominated the majority of the race.
Nemechek took the lead with only seven laps to go following a battle between Allgaier and Parker Kligerman, where both drivers drove up the racetrack in turn 3 after Kligerman got loose. Kligerman took over the lead but had lost his momentum. Kligerman attempted to block Nemechek on the bottom but Nemechek had too much of a head of steam.
This race saw many playoff drivers battle misfortune and adverse conditions. Despite a top-10 qualifying effort, Chandler Smith started from the very back of the field because of a leaking hose that needed to be replaced. He fought his way up through the field all day and managed a fourth-place finish.
Allgaier lost track position halfway through the final stage after getting loose out of turn 2. It was the first time he had given up the lead during green-flag racing all day. Allgaier then pitted earlier than the rest of the field and because Daniel Dye brought out the caution for a spin later on in the run, Allgaier was able to pit and regain track position ahead of the other lead cars.
Though he would later lose the lead to Kligerman and Nemechek, he was still able to come away with a top-five finish.
Regular season champion Hill crossed the finish line in seventh, overcoming substantial damage to the front fascia of his Camaro due to a lap 99 crash with Trevor Bayne, Josh Berry and Kyle Weatherman. Bayne was taken out of the race and was scored with a 33rd-place finish while Berry snuck away with damage to the rear of his Camaro. Berry finished 27th, several laps down.
Daniel Hemric battled aerodynamic issues all day and was running in the top 10 when he had to pit a second time due to a possible loose wheel. Eventually, he had to come back into the pits a third time and he ended up finishing in 24th.
Jeb Burton had major problems following a promising run throughout the first half of the race where he ran into the top 10 from the back of the field. Unfortunately, a loose wheel, that eventually came off, became a problem for the No. 27 team approaching the end of stage 2. Burton would return to the racetrack following lengthy repairs but he would eventually have to retire from the race due to a broken trackbar. Burton would end up finishing DNF in 31st.
The very first few crashes of the day saw Sam Mayer finish in dead last. The track was extremely slick in the first few laps, causing Mayer and Riley Herbst to fall victim. Herbst was scored 37th, second to last.
In the points, Custer has advanced himself into the Round of 8 and Kligerman made up significant ground on Hemric due to Hemric’s misfortunes, and the two are now separated by only two points. Berry and Sam Mayer are both in virtually must-win territory, sitting at minus 27 and minus 34 points respectively.
The Round of 12 of the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs will conclude at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL on Saturday, Oct. 7, with the Drive for the Cure 250. The race will air at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
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