Things got a little rambunctious in the closing stages of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Watkins Glen International. And while Sam Mayer may have created some of the chaos, he’s also the one who benefitted from it.
Mayer, who scored his first victory in similar circumstances at Road America earlier this year, pulled into Xfinity Series victory lane for the second time ever, making a late-race move on Ty Gibbs, and then another on Sheldon Creed to score the victory.
“Yeah, that first one, I got used up,” Mayer said about the sequence of late-race restarts. “Thought I had a good one there, but, man, all glory to god for this one because we had to work our tails off for it.”
“Mardy [Lindley] on top of the box, and everybody on pit road, we earned this one for sure. Feels good to have a car as fast as Xfinity 10G everywhere you go, no matter what the situation is.”
Gibbs, leading a race-high 70 of 86 laps in Saturday’s Shriners Children’s 200, had a stranglehold on the Xfinity Series field until the closing laps of the event when the No. 19 hit pit road, under the assumption that many couldn’t run the distance.
Then, when a late-race caution was displayed for Parker Retzlaff sending his Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet into the gravel trap, things slowly began to unravel for the NASCAR Cup Series rookie.
On the first – of what ended up being two – NASCAR Overtime restarts, Gibbs was able to get the lead away, but raced extremely aggressively with then-leader Sam Mayer, who was still looking to nurse the same tank of fuel back to the checkered.
The 20-year-old driver didn’t quite like the way he was raced and made that clear via radio communication to his team after another caution was displayed for an 11-car pileup exiting the Inner Loop.
To describe it simply, Mayer then went full-send into the first corner on the subsequent restart, spinning the No. 19 of Ty Gibbs, which collected Austin Hill and others in the process.
“I wheel-hopped it, that’s unfortunate, I feel bad for doing that obviously you don’t want to take out a Gibbs car like that – or any car like that, but yeah, just trying to get another win in the Xfinity Series,” said Mayer about the late-race incident. “I got a lot of catching up to do, I was in there – I poked my nose in there, and that’s part of it. Fenders are fenders.”
“Yeah, that’s an accident, but I think everyone can agree that it’s okay for an Xfinity Series regular to win this race.”
But, that was the least of everybody’s concerns moving forward, as there appeared to be all kinds of oil and speedy-dry all over the race track, causing several drivers to slip, slide, and even spin – just like both Josh Berry and Sammy Smith did coming to the white.
That slick track, allowed Mayer to re-take the lead away from Sheldon Creed, who was battling hard with the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro but ultimately slid wide in Turn 7 coming to the final lap.
Mayer was then able to clear the Richard Childress Racing driver and set sail, nursing a heavily-damaged car, with an extremely low fuel tank, back to the checkered flag without slipping and sliding in all the oil and sand on the track.
Sheldon Creed came home in the runner-up position, the fourth of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career, while Parker Kligerman came home in third place for Big Machine Racing. Entering Saturday’s race at Watkins Glen, the pair were fighting for the final spot in the postseason.
Driving the No. 91 for DGM Racing, Ross Chastain scored a fourth-place result at the 2.45-mile oval, matching the best-ever finish for the organization in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Rounding out the top five in fifth was Connor Mosack, who was involved in a couple of incidents throughout the afternoon, including the final caution of the race, which came just moments after an incredible save for the Xfinity Series rookie.
John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer, Chandler Smith, Alex Bowman, and Jeb Burton completed the top-10.
Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs, who shared the front row for the race’s final restart, were both involved in the overtime chaos, finishing 14th and 17th, after getting turned around in the first corner.
Leaving Watkins Glen, Austin Hill holds a nine-point advantage over John Hunter Nemechek for the regular-season championship, as the series heads to Daytona International Speedway, for the third-to-last race of the regular season.