It’s already been an amazing week for John Hunter Nemechek, after announcing he would return to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2024 for LEGACY MOTOR CLUB. Now, the Joe Gibbs Racing is celebrating another Xfinity Series victory.
Nemechek started Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 from seventh and showed immense speed from the drop of the green flag. By lap 40, the Mooresville, North Carolina native was already fighting polesitter Justin Allgaier from the lead.
Winning both of the race’s point-paying stages, the 26-year-old driver didn’t have a lot of major defending to do, except for against Allgaier, and teammate Sammy Smith, who looked to have the only cars that could challenge the No. 20 Toyota Supra.
However, a three-car accident at the mid-way point of Saturday’s race, caused significant damage to both Smith and Allgaier, leaving Nemechek to be fairly uncontested throughout the remaining laps in the race.
The final green-flag run for the event lasted 50 laps, and saw must-win driver Brandon Jones land himself in the runner-up position, after rebounding from an early-race spin, and involvement in the multi-car accident that removed Smith and Allgaier from contention.
However, the pace in the No. 9 Chevrolet wasn’t enough to defeat Nemechek, who continued to stretch his margin over the course of the race’s final run, eventually crossing the start-finish line 7.521 seconds ahead of Jones.
Sheldon Creed made a surge at the end of Saturday’s race to secure a third-place finish, his third top-five result in the last four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts.
Though, the major battle on the docket for Saturday’s race, was the battle for the final spot in the post-season, which stood at a difference of just one point entering this afternoon, with the advantage to Herbst.
Herbst, however, continued a long-standing string of terrible luck, as the Stewart-Haas Racing driver ran into the pack of Parker Kligerman, his fellow post-season competitor, after the driver of the No. 48 missed a shift on the restart.
The Las Vegas native struggled for the remainder of the afternoon, cutting down a left-rear tire and going two laps down. Then, as Herbst moved back into the top-20., disaster struck for a second time, with another flat tire, which erased all of his earlier progress.
Kligerman came home with an impressive fourth-place run for Big Machine Racing, while Riley Herbst ended up 25th, two laps down, which allowed the No. 48 Chevrolet to advance to the Playoffs, and the No. 98 to be eliminated.
Just behind Kligerman in the finishing order, was Austin Hill, who managed to bring home the regular-season championship with a fifth-place finish, scoring that accolade by five points over race-winner John Hunter Nemechek.
Josh Berry finished a respectable sixth in the event, while Brett Moffitt scored a fourth top-10 finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Kansas, coming home seventh for AM Racing. Derek Kraus, Joe Graf, Jr., and Kaz Grala completed the top-10.
Leaving Kansas, the 12-driver field for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs is set as the drivers travel to Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend, for the first race of the ‘Round of 12’.
The drivers that qualified for the post-season are as follows: Cole Custer, Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed, Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry, Daniel Hemric, Chandler Smith, Sammy Smith, John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Hill, Jeb Burton, Parker Kligerman, and