With a walkoff win Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Sam Mayer made a big statement in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs.
Mayer led the most laps – 50 of 67 laps – and won at the most important time.
The JR Motorsports driver entered the race 34 points below the cutline and needed to win. Mayer won the pole and only lost the lead in the first four laps and when cautions shook up the order.
Mayer beat Cole Custer (led 4 laps), Josh Berry, Riley Herbst, Kaz Grala, Parker Kligerman, Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek (led two), Austin Hill and Sheldon Creed, who finished 10th.
Playoff drivers Sammy Smith and Chandler Smith finished 11th and 12th.
The other playoff drivers, Jeb Burton and Justin Allgaier, restarted 1-2 after a debris caution in turn 17 on lap 57.
Allgaier had relatively new tires after pitting just before the caution. Meanwhile, Burton had old tires and was in a last-ditch effort to advance.
Burton slid into Allgaier in turn one, causing Allgaier to slam hard into the wall.
That ended the day for Justin Allgaier, who finished 37th after starting second, claiming stage one and leading 10 laps.
Burton finished 34th after leading a lap. He is now eliminated from the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs.
The Drive for the Cure 250 started mostly calm with no cautions in the first stage.
Sam Mayer led 13 laps in the 20-lap stage but gave up the lead before the stage caution to go for the win.
STAGE ONE RESULTS: Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Sheldon Creed, Parker Kligerman, Austin Hill, Chandler Smith, Sammy Smith, Sam Mayer, Jeb Burton, Josh Bilicki
Mayer pulled the same strategy in stage two. The stage ended two laps shy of the green-white-checkered after Conor Daly popped a left-rear tire and spun in turn three.
STAGE TWO RESULTS: John Hunter Nemechek, Hemric, Kligerman, Creed, Alex Labbe, S. Smith, Mayer, C. Smith, Bilicki, Stefan Parsons
In stage three, Mayer went back to the lead. However, the lap 57 caution nearly set him back as his crew had a slower stop.
Mayer’s speed shined through, though, as he drove by Cole Custer, led the final four laps and won.
It is Mayer’s first win on The Roval and his third win of the Xfinity Series season. He also won at Road America and Watkins Glen, which are also road courses.
Reseeded NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff standings
- John Hunter Nemechek: 3055 points (+37)
- Austin Hill: 3039 points (+21)
- Justin Allgaier: 3035 points (+17)
- Sam Mayer: 3020 points (+2)
- Cole Custer: 3018 points (-2)
- Chandler Smith: 3009 points (-11)
- Sheldon Creed: 3008 points (-12)
- Sammy Smith: 3006 points (-14)
Only twice has a NASCAR Xfinity Series driver locked themselves into the Championship Four with a win in the Round of 8 opener – and both instances came in the last three seasons: Josh Berry (2022), Chase Briscoe (2020).
See who may lock themselves in Saturday, October 14 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Alsco Uniforms 302 goes green just after 3:30 p.m. ET (Broadcast: USA, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90).
The Racing Experts will be on the ground with team coverage of the race.