HOMESTEAD, FLA. — Sam Mayer looked like he was driving on dirt, not Homestead-Miami Speedway, as he held on to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday.
Mayer led the final 31 laps and wheeled a continuously looser racecar to beat Riley Herbst by just over two-tenths of a second in the Contender Boats 300.
For the 20-year-old JR Motorsports driver, it is his career win No. 4 in the Xfinity Series. More importantly, it locks him into the Championship Four.
TOP-10 FINISHERS: Mayer, Herbst, John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Hill, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Daniel Hemric, Parker Kligerman, Brandon Jones, Sammy Smith, Joe Graf Jr.
Cole Custer earned the pole and led all 45 laps en route to winning stage one.
STAGE ONE TOP-10: Custer, Sam Mayer, John Hunter Nemechek, Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt, Justin Allgaier, Riley Herbst, Austin Hill, Kaz Grala, Daniel Hemric
Then, in stage two, Derek Kraus and Kyle Sieg took new tires, producing two upset finishes in the stage.
STAGE TWO TOP-10 (LAP 90): Kraus, Nemechek, Custer, Mayer, Allgaier, Parker Kligerman, Sieg, Herbst, Hill, Hemric
In stage three, Justin Allgaier challenged Cole Custer’s reign. Then, with 89 laps to go, Allgaier pitted with a loose wheel and handed the lead back to Custer.
Custer cruised to a comfortable lead, even through pit stops, until lap 152. He hit the wall and blew a right front tire.
While Custer almost fell two laps down, Sam Mayer took hold of the race. Teammate Allgaier finally had to pit on lap 154 after not getting the caution he needed.
That caution came on lap 165.
Sheldon Creed stayed out, going from fifth to first on older tires. For this to work, he needed 10-20 laps to get a caution and newer tires than everyone else.
Creed didn’t get that. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked with Josh Berry and brought out the caution on lap 172.
Creed dropped from first to 12th in just one green-flag lap. He stayed in 12th until wrecking with two laps to go and finishing 26th, two laps down.
Meanwhile, Custer and Allgaier never caught the breaks they needed and finished 13th and 15th, respectively, each one lap down.
Chandler Smith finished 34th with a blown engine after completing 138 laps. Smith was also in a wreck on lap 98 that took out Brett Moffitt.
After getting in a wreck that took out Brett Moffitt on lap 98, Smith later blew an engine and fell out of the race after completing 138 laps.
- Sam Mayer: WIN
- John Hunter Nemechek (+44)
- Cole Custer (+3)
- Austin Hill (+3)
- Justin Allgaier (3110 pts, -3)
- Sammy Smith (-49)
- Chandler Smith (-54)
- Sheldon Creed (-65)
The Dead-On Tools 250 at Martinsville Speedway will determine the final three Championship Four spots. The race goes green just after 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Nemechek, the spring Martinsville winner, will need to finish 22nd or better to lock in.