After a chaotic Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, there are now three NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff drivers locked into the Round of 8.
John Hunter Nemechek locked up a spot by winning Saturday. He now has seven wins on the season.
Cole Custer also locked up a spot at Texas. He finished sixth and is now +63 points to the cutline – locked into the next round with Nemechek and Justin Allgaier.
At +44 points, Austin Hill is almost there too, miraculously, after Texas.
Hill sustained right-front fender damage during a wreck with Trevor Bayne on lap 99. The damage destroyed the fender and took him out of the top-10 until a late-race caution.
A caution fell on lap 161 for Daniel Dye and gave the eight lead-lap drivers a big advantage. Among them, Austin Hill.
Hill restarted second on lap 166 and held on through three restarts to finish seventh.
Teammate Sheldon Creed finished eighth after not earning any stage points.
Creed ran 12th and risked falling below the cutline. Then, a two-tire pit stop with 20 laps to finish eighth, +9 points to the cutline.
Also inside the top-10 from above the cutline were Sammy Smith (third, +18) and Chandler Smith (fourth, +32).
Narrowly above the cutline after finishing 24th with a lap 195 crash DNF is Daniel Hemric.
After being +25 to the cutline at one point, Hemric left just +1 to the cutline.
Parker Kligerman is -1 to Hemric but he almost changed everything for both of them.
With eight laps to go, Kligerman and John Hunter Nemechek had fresher tires than leader Justin Allgaier. However, Kligerman pulled away from Nemechek and challenged Allgaier for the lead.
Then, Kligerman slid up the track in turn three and caused both he and Allgaier to lose time.
That let Nemechek sneak by for the win while Kligerman finished second.
“It feels like I choked but I gave him a lot of room. We showed up here, locked in executed at a high level. I’m really disappointed right now. I could feel it, had the best damn restart of my life and just choked. I’ll feel that one but I’ll be alright,” Kligerman said.
Kligerman (-1) Jeb Burton (-19), Josh Berry (-27) and Sam Mayer (-34) are below the cutline going into the Round of 12 cutoff race in two weeks.
Sam Mayer didn’t have a shot Saturday at Texas. Mayer slipped out of the groove in turn on on lap 1 and crashed, putting him out of the race in last.
The rest of the first two stages went clean – but then quickly went awry for Burton and Berry.
After stage two, Burton had an issue with a wheel hub. The team fixed that but a broken track bar ended his day in 31st.
Shortly after that, Berry wrecked on lap 99 but continued. However, issues persisted and he finished 27th, seven laps down.
Here is what the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff standings look like heading into the Round of 12 cutoff race October 7 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: