At the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, four NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers’ playoff hopes ended Saturday.
Daniel Hemric (-2 points)
Daniel Hemric entered Saturday one point above the cutline – and eight points below with a new winner below the cutline.
With Sam Mayer commanding the race from below the cutline, Hemric worked hard, earning 18 stage points – the most of any driver Saturday.
Hemric consistently ran inside the top-10 and scrapped for every point, entering the final corner t-2 points to the cutline.
There, Hemric saw Parker Kligerman put a move on Kaz Grala that opened the door for him. Hemric dug all the way to the line, finishing seventh – just 0.037 seconds behind fifth-place Parker Kligerman.
Hemric needed those two spots to advance.
“I saw it playing out in front and saw the move the 48 was going. I was in the best position I could to turn on the 26 and came up a little short. It’s the way it is. I started the day saying, ‘Be humble and gracious in defeat,’ and we were defeated in this round.Really, I put us in a hole in Texas but it’s just part of the journey. I look forward to what’s ahead and trying to get a win,” Hemric said.
Parker Kligerman (-5)
Parker Kligerman was next closest in points and needed just about anything he could get to advance in the playoffs in the closing laps.
Kligerman earned 15 stage points, tying bubble competitor Sheldon Creed. On the final lap, that left Kligerman five points below the cutline.
“I just knew to get every spot I could, in case something happened but I didn’t exactly know the situation. I just knew I was ahead of the 10 and I knew we had to pass people,” Kligerman said.
As Hemric saw out of his windshield, Kligerman dove into the final chicane and roughed up Kaz Grala. He and Grala ended in a virtual tie, with Grala nipping Kligerman after further review.
That left Kligerman finishing sixth and eliminated from the playoffs.
“I just hate it because I love the pressure behind this, I love the idea of fighting for something so big,” Kligerman stated.
Despite the elimination, Kligerman put up a strong fight in the first playoff berth for Big Machine Racing, an organization that began in 2021.
Although he had a mechanical issue in stage two at Bristol, he placed eighth in stage one there. He also finished second and sixth at Texas and The Roval.
“I had one of the top 3 fastest cars,” Kligerman said on The Roval. “Everyone on Big Machine Racing did an amazing job. It’s been a big achievement making the playoffs and we could still finish fifth in points which is a big accomplishment. I know I can be a better driver in 2024. We gotta turn these top-3s into wins.”
Josh Berry (-43)
Josh Berry had one objective Saturday: Win.
At times, it looked like Berry could do it. He ran third before the stage one caution.
As the race progressed, though, he developed an issue that hurt his race.
“We had an awesome car but we developed an issue early on. Under any sort of big load, we had no power steering which hurt me a little bit,” Berry said.
Berry struggled on the high-banked turns and elsewhere which led to him spinning out of a top-5 spot on lap 33.
Through some careful strategy, Berry made his way back inside the top-10.
However, he was no match for teammate Sam Mayer who won while Berry finished third – eliminated.
“I got sloppy in the second half of the race and made mistakes but we fought back and got third. Just proud of the day we had, I don’t think anyone expected us to be as good as we were. I’m proud of all the guys for the car they built and the preparation,” Berry said.
Jeb Burton (-64)
After overcoming a speeding penalty during the lap 20 caution for stage one, Jeb Burton a chance to score a Hail Mary win Saturday.
Burton restarted in the lead on lap 59 with Justin Allgaier hustling to the outside entering turn one. Fortunes didn’t favor the Jordan Anderson Racing driver, though.
“At the end, I spun my tires too much compared to those guys. I was going faster into [turn] one than I had all week and locked up the tires,” Burton explained.
Burton slid in turn one and slammed into Justin Allgaier, taking him out of the race and ending his chances at advancing in the playoffs.
“I just hate the 7 was there, I respect Justin and JR Motorsports, I wish he wouldn’t have gotten caught up in that wreck. I was going to wreck no matter what down there,” Burton said remorsefully.
In the closing laps, Burton had enough damage to warrant NASCAR to call him to pit road. He finished 34th, one lap down.