Race Weekend Central

Xfinity Breakdown: Sam Mayer Busts Out of Slump at Texas

After a rough start to his 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Sam Mayer broke out of the slump at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday (April 13).

The JR Motorsports driver narrowly beat out Ryan Sieg in a photo finish, winning by a margin of victory of 0.002 seconds. 

Mayer ended up leading only five laps in his win but led the one that counted. It was his first victory since Homestead-Miami Speedway last October. 

See also
Sam Mayer Wins Xfinity Race at Texas in Photo Finish

Sieg finished second, with Mayer’s JRM teammate Justin Allgaier finishing third after leading 117 laps. AJ Allmendinger fought back from a pit road mishap early in the race to finish fourth, and Cole Custer rounded out the top five. 

Winners:

Aside from taking the checkered flag, Mayer finding victory lane is a significant development for his 2024 season. He didn’t dominate the race but was there when it counted most.

Mayer sat 16th in points following last week’s race at Martinsville Speedway and was as low as 20th in the standings just two weeks ago following the race at Richmond Raceway. He now sits 14th in points, locked into the playoffs with the win, and has seemingly turned around his season after starting the year with three DNFs in his first four races. 

The driver that he edged out for the win, Sieg, certainly turned heads at Texas. Despite not winning the race, Sieg took home his second career runner-up finish at a non-drafting track and his third overall, with the last coming at Talladega Superspeedway in the fall of 2020.

See also
Ryan Sieg Oh-So-Close, Yet Oh-So-Far from 1st Xfinity Win at Texas

It was also Sieg’s first top-five finish since the Talladega fall race in 2022. Sieg now sits five points above the playoff cut line in 12th place heading into Talladega, a track where he’s finished inside of the top five on four different occasions. 

Making his first start since the second race of the season, Ryan Truex finished inside of the top 10, coming home in seventh. Truex showed solid speed throughout the weekend despite being away from the car for five races, with his last start coming at Atlanta Motor Speedway at the end of February.

It’s not atypical for Truex to pick up strong after lengthy hiatuses from the car, as he finished runner-up at Phoenix Raceway in 2023 for Joe Gibbs Racing 19 races after his previous start in the series at that time. Truex will return to the series next week at Talladega. He finished 21st in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway on a similar style of racetrack. 

Lastly, Anthony Alfredo deserves a shoutout. He and Our Motorsports are off to an excellent start in 2024, with Fast Pasta scoring his third top-10 finish in eight races this season and only finishing outside of the top 20 twice.

Alfredo also has two consecutive top-15 starts this season, clocking in at seventh to start the race last week at Martinsville and 15th this week at Texas. He currently sits narrowly behind the final playoff spot heading into Talladega, a place where he’s found success before. He finished inside the top 10 twice at the Alabama track, in 2020 and 2022.

The overall year-to-year performance boost is nice for both team and driver as well, as Alfredo finished up 2023 in 20th place in the overall standings and Our finished last year out of the top 30 in owners points, in 32nd. 

Losers:

Jordan Anderson Racing teammates Jeb Burton and Parker Retzlaff both struggled at Texas, finishing 32nd and 22nd respectively. 

Both drivers started outside of the top 20, with Retzlaff rolling off the grid 29th and Burton in 21st. Neither scored stage points, and both had incidents during the race. 

Burton slapped the wall in turn 4 in the early portions of stage three, spinning down the frontstretch to bring out a yellow. He was able to continue, but he finished three laps down.

As for Retzlaff, he bounced around the top 20 for much of the race but found the outside wall on a late-race restart out of turn 2, dropping him to his 22nd finishing position. 

On the season as a whole, it’s a tale of two stories. Retzlaff has been respectable, as he sits 18th in points, 53 points out of the final playoff spot. He has shown good speed, winning the pole at Richmond two weeks ago. As for Burton, he sits 27th in points, the lowest of all drivers who have attempted all eight races this season. The car also sits outside of the top 30 in owners points in 32nd. 

Parker Kligerman had solid speed at Texas, but after pitting unscheduled for a vibration in the second stage set him behind on tire sets, he never rebounded. 

Kligerman’s day as a whole wasn’t awful. He scored a stage point in stage one and was around the top 10 prior to pitting for his vibration. 

The No. 48 driver finished 25th after most of the field pitted late in the going for tires when his Big Machine Racing team had none to put on. Kligerman still holds a playoff spot, sitting in ninth, 23 points above the cut line. 

Riley Herbst ran very well at Texas. He finished third in both stage one and stage two, earning 16 stage points for the whole race. 

However, trouble on the final restart led Herbst to a late-race unscheduled pit stop, giving him a 27th-place finish. At one point, Herbst was chasing down Allgaier for the race lead, but after multiple different points of contact on the final restart of the race, his good run was washed away. 

Herbst has not shown the speed he finished 2023 with through the first eight races of 2024, but all is far from lost. Herbst has shown good fight this season despite that, currently sitting sixth in the standings, even with the poor finish at Texas. He is 40 points above the cut line and 101 points out of the point lead heading into Talladega.  

Fuel for Thought:

Each week, FOX allows a pair of NASCAR Cup Series drivers to come into the booth with play-by-play broadcaster Adam Alexander and call the Xfinity race. Joey Logano, who was one half of this week’s duo, is a usual suspect, along with Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski, who also make frequent appearances. However, this week, a debut was made, as Ross Chastain called his first race from the booth. He was excellent. 

Chastain, who has certainly made his way around the garage area during his time, driving for numerous small teams, was extremely knowledgeable about sponsorships, crew members and drivers for all teams, regardless of how big or small. 

That level of knowledge about all facets of the garage area is something that the broadcast desperately needs. While the small teams aren’t always competitive, they oftentimes posses some of the best stories in the garage area.

Adding someone like Chastain, who has driven for and understands such teams, to the broadcast booth, helps give those teams a voice on national TV. During the length of the broadcast, Chastain shouted out multiple different small teams and their sponsors, like Garrett Smithley and his sponsor Trophy Tractor, and Kyle Weatherman and his sponsor Tweaker Energy. 

Chastain also brought a level of excitement to the booth for a race that had no shortage of action. He displayed a good level of chemistry with Logano, which is something that a revolving booth oftentimes lacks, especially when one of the on-air talents is calling a race for their first time. 

Also on the broadcast, it was announced that Logano will be on play-by-play duty for next month’s drivers-only broadcast at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25. In previous years, that role went to Kevin Harvick. But now that Harvick’s retired and a full-time broadcaster on the Cup side, a change was required. 

Logano is an excellent choice for this role and has shined during his time as a color commentator alongside Alexander over the course of the last few seasons. Naturally, like anybody starting a role for the first time, there will be growing pains, but by the end of the race at Charlotte next month, there’s a good chance Logano will have settled in nicely. As of now, his broadcast-mates for the race have yet to be announced but surely will be in the coming weeks. 

Where to Next:

Next Saturday, April, 20, Xfinity drivers will tackle the high banks of the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Mayer, Sieg, Allgaier and Allmendinger will compete for $100,000 in the third race of this season’s Dash 4 Cash. The green flag for the Ag-Pro 300 is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET, with the race airing on FOX. 

About the author

Josh joined Frontstretch in 2023 and currently covers the ARCA Menards Series. Born and raised in Missouri, Josh has been watching motorsports since 2005. He currently is studying for a Mass Communication degree at Lindenwood University

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