All throughout the second half of Saturday’s Xfinity Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it looked like Kaulig Racing was in control of its own destiny, with Justin Haley, Chandler Smith, and Daniel Hemric in the top-three spots.
However, when the field crossed under the start-finish line to take the checkered flag, it was John Hunter Nemechek, driving the No. 20 Toyota GR Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing, who got there first.
So, how does something like that transpire? First, a late-race spin by Austin Hill, who had just broken the tail-end off the three-car train of Kaulig Racing entries, sent the race into NASCAR Overtime.
With the entire field low on fuel, Chandler Smith, who elected to line up behind his teammate Justin Haley as the second car in the outside lane, ran out of gas on the restart, leaving the No. 10 without a push, and losing him the lead to Nemechek and Hemric.
Then, coming to the white flag, Hemric and Haley were able to get lined up in second and third, which looked like it would provide them with a chance to get around the eventual race winner. That was until Haley, not a regular in the series, peeked inside the No. 11, killing the momentum of both drivers.
From that point forward, Nemechek was unchallenged, bringing his Mobil 1 sponsored entry back to the start-finish line to collect his third victory of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season, and the fifth of his career.
Daniel Hemric would be able to maintain the runner-up spot throughout the chaos of the final laps, the Kaulig Racing driver’s second top-five result of the year, and first since the Spring race at Atlanta.
Cole Custer came out of nowhere on the final restart to finish in third place, while Justin Haley faded back to fourth as a result of the last-lap move on his teammate. Sam Mayer completed the top-five in the No. 1 for JR Motorsports.
Ty Gibbs rebounded from a flat tire earlier in the event to finish sixth, while Kyle Sieg picked up a career-best seventh-place result in the No. 28 for RSS Racing, his second career top-10 in the Xfinity Series.
Parker Kligerman finished Saturday’s 250-mile contest in eighth, while Josh Williams scored his first top-10 of the year in ninth place, at the site of his viral incident earlier this season. Sammy Smith completed the top-10.
Several drivers who found themselves in contention to score the victory in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 250 were taken out just after the halfway point of the event when a flat tire caused Riley Herbst to slow dramatically.
Sheldon Creed, Ryan Sieg, and Riley Herbst were amongst the strongest cars taken out in the incident, while others like Brandon Jones and Kyle Weatherman had also seen strong runs thwarted due to the accident.
Leaving Atlanta, John Hunter Nemechek extends his points lead in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, now sitting 16 markers ahead of second-place Austin Hill. Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, and Chandler Smith round out the top-10 in points.
Next for the series is a trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Crayon 200, which will take place Saturday, July 16th at 3:00 PM ET on USA Network.