In his 71st career start, Sam Mayer is finally a winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
For the 20-year-old driver, a two-time champion in the ARCA Menards Series East, a triumph in Saturday’s Xfinity Series event at Road America marked the culmination of two-plus seasons of close calls and frustration.
“Oh my god, this car was as fast as XFINITY 10G,” Mayer said in victory lane. “It was just about getting track position and we had it there at the end, then I lost it there for a second, and then all hell broke loose at the end and we ended up on top.”
Sitting third on the race’s final NASCAR Overtime restart, Mayer sat back and utilized patience, waiting for Justin Allgaier and Sage Karam to engage in a battle for the lead, which allowed the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro to put himself directly into contention.
Upon catching the leaders, Mayer made a risky three-wide move into turn eight with two laps remaining, momentarily taking the lead from Karam, before going wide and slotting back into second.
However, the battle wasn’t finished, continuing on throughout the majority of the 4.048-mile circuit where four different drivers led before the field came back to the white flag – Mayer, Allgaier, Karam, and Kligerman.
After running wide again in Canada Corner (Turn 12), Mayer was able to charge back to battle for the lead when Karam, driving the No. 24 for Sam Hunt Racing, slid off-course in the next corner, which handed the lead to Parker Kligerman.
Kligerman, who much like Mayer and Karam was searching for his first victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, missed the inside line in the final corner, which allowed the JR Motorsports driver to return to the lead and start to set sail.
The victory for Mayer, the first of his Xfinity Series career, came in his home state of Wisconsin and also served as the 75th victory in the second-tier series for JR Motorsports.
“It’s so special to get that first win, that monkey off your back, that feels good,” Mayer continued. “I felt it, I felt it all day, like I felt like if I can do this one, I can do anything, and we came here today and did that.”
In the late-race chaos, Parker Kligerman was able to hold onto the second position to earn a career-best result in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, beating out a third-place result he had at this very road course a decade ago with Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Austin Hill was able to rebound from a couple of mid-race issues to score a finish of third place, with Sage Karam in fourth scoring a career-best finish in a one-off for Sam Hunt Racing.
Riley Herbst, who got turned around on two different occasions throughout the event, was able to rebound and finish inside the top five for the second straight weekend. Josh Berry came home in sixth after triggering a late-race multi-car accident.
Kaz Grala completed a double top-10 result for Sam Hunt Racing in seventh, while Josh Bilicki picked up a career-best NASCAR National Series finish in eighth. AJ Allmendinger finished ninth, while Brandon Jones made an incredible recovery to finish 10th.
A disappointing afternoon for John Hunter Nemechek saw the Joe Gibbs Racing driver give up the lead in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season point standings, with Austin Hill creating a 14-point gap over the No. 20 Toyota GR Supra.
Justin Allgaier sits third in points, while Cole Custer and Josh Berry complete the top five. Sam Mayer, Chandler Smith, Daniel Hemric, Sammy Smith, and Riley Herbst complete the top-10.
Up next for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is a trip to Michigan International Speedway for the series’ annual race at the two-mile speedway.