Race Weekend Central

John Hunter Nemechek Wins 1st Xfinity Series Race of 2024

John Hunter Nemechek captured his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win of 2024 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday (March 2). It is Nemechek’s 10th career Xfinity Series win of his career and his first win in Sin City. Nemechek led a race-high 99 laps in the 200-lap race.

“Hats off to all the guys on this [No.] 20 team of Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Nemechek to FOX Sports 1. “It’s awesome to come back out here to win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with limited number of starts. Our goal was to win as many as we possibly could, and nothing else matters.

“It feels so good to win in here in Las Vegas, and got some reps for tomorrow, so I’m excited.”

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Nemechek finished 4.36 seconds ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer who charged his way through the top five in the closing laps.

Nemechek’s JGR teammate Chandler Smith finished third. Smith was the winner of stages one and two and led the second-most laps at 73.

“We just over-adjusted a little bit trying to stay ahead of the racetrack, and it feels like it got a little colder.” Smith told FOX Sports 1. “It felt like the track freed up, and we went in that same direction, thinking it would tighten up. You live and you learn.”

Austin Hill, the winner of the first two races of the season, finished fourth, and Riley Herbst, who won at Las Vegas in the fall last year, completed the top five.

AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Sieg, Sammy Smith, Brandon Jones and Justin Allgaier, who started at the back of the field after a flat tire in qualifying, rounded out the top 10 in sixth through 10th, respectively.

Custer won the pole in qualifying and led the field to the green flag, but after some three-wide action to start the race, Chandler Smith took the early lead.

It wouldn’t take long for the first caution to fly on lap 6 involving Parker Retzlaff, Sam Mayer and Aric Almirola in his first race back with JGR. Mayer would be the first driver out of the race due to the damage.

Smith stayed out front for the remainder of the stage and took the stage win. Nemechek, Hill, Herbst and Custer finished top five in the first stage.

The No. 81 lost six spots on the stage one pit stops due to a jack malfunction which surrendered the lead to Hill for the stage two restart.

Hill picked up debris on the restart and dropped out of the lead to clear his grill to prevent overheating, which gave the lead to Nemechek.

Nemechek dominated the rest of the stage with Smith pulling closer to the front, and on the final lap, Smith made the pass to retake the lead on the backstretch and won stage two. Herbst, Allgaier and Allmendinger completed the top five in stage two.

The two JGR drivers continued their battle on the stage three restart with Nemechek and Smith swapping the lead multiple times until Smith prevailed on lap 110.

The second natural caution was caused by Retzlaff stalling out just outside of pit road on lap 124, and after pit stops, Nemechek jumped Smith again for the lead.

Smith’s car would start to taper off and drive loose which opened up Herbst’s opportunity to take second on lap 142.

Green flag pit stops began with 34 to go, and after everything cycled through, Nemechek went on to extend his lead to as much as five seconds before the checkered flag flew.

Xfinity Results from Las Vegas

The Xfinity Series will continue its West Coast swing at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, March 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET. TV coverage is provided by FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.

Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime

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Robert B

I thought this was the 3rd race of 2024

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