John Hunter Nemechek takes Xfinity Series prize at Texas

John Hunter Nemechek takes Xfinity Series prize at Texas
Logan Riely/Getty Images

John Hunter Nemechek overcame a late race pit penalty to rally through the field and take his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday in the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at Texas Motor Speedway – the first of three Playoff events that will set the Championship Four field for the season finale.

Nemechek, whose full-time job is contending for a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, is the third different driver to win an Xfinity Series race in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota joining Kyle Busch and Ty Gibbs – the trio combining for nine wins in 2021 in assorted part-time starts.

Nemechek’s victory by .956-seconds over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Hemric marked the third win in four series Playoff races by a non-Playoff driver this season. It was the second Xfnity Series win in the 24-year old Nemechek’s career — the other coming at Kansas Speedway in 2018.

A penalty during a pit stop – a crewman coming over the wall too soon — took Nemechek from the lead to 18th position for a restart with 51 laps remaining. Far from crushing his hopes, it motivated Nemechek and his team.

During a pit stop on the 10th and final caution period with 28 laps remaining, Nemechek’s team called for a two-tire change while the rest of the contenders took four tires. The strategy put him on the front row for the re-start and he navigated his way forward and re-took the lead for good with 20 laps remaining.

“[Spotter] Stevie Reeves and [crew chief] Chris Gayle kept me calm,” said Nemechek, who led a race best 92 laps on the afternoon. “I’ve grown a lot as a driver and been put in positions like that in the truck series as well.

“Man, I can’t say enough about this whole team. The 54 has been fast every single week. My goal coming in was to win. I had to win to prove to myself I can do this.”

It marked the third runner-up finish for Hemric this season and the 10th of his Xfinity Series career as he races for his first career victory. He was the top Playoff driver on Saturday.

“They just made a really good call to take two [tires] there, obviously,” an understandably subdued Hemric said of Nemechek, adding, “Congratulations to those guys. We just weren’t quite good enough [to catch him].”

Those two Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas were pretty much the story of the day. NASCAR Xfinity Series championship leader A.J. Allmendinger led the opening 13 laps and then his chief challenger, defending series champion Austin Cindric, took the lead, earning his 10th stage victory.

The JGR Toyotas pushed forward and started racking up the laps led. Nemechek won Stage 2 and primarily exchanged the lead with Hemric for the remainder of the race. The exception was a bold pit move – defending Texas winner Harrison Burton (also a JGR driver) opted not to pit on the last caution and led six laps before Nemechek overtook him and held the lead until the checkered flag.

JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson finished third rallying from damage early in the race, followed by his teammate Justin Allgaier and Cindric.

Allmendinger was sixth, followed by Justin Haley, Burton, Michael Annett and Brandon Jones. All eight of the Playoff drivers were among the top 10 with Nemechek and Annett the exceptions.

The sixth-place finish for Allmendinger was good enough to keep him atop the championship standings by four points over Cindric. Allgaier is third, 26 points back and Gragson is fourth.

Despite his runner-up effort, Hemric is fifth, two points behind Gragson. Hailey is sixth (-6), Burton (-21) and Jones (-32) round out the Playoff standings.

RESULTS

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Number 30
Race Results for the 17th Annual Andy's Frozen Custard 335 - Saturday, October 16, 2021
Texas Motor Speedway - Fort Worth, TX - 1.5 - Mile Paved
Total Race Length - 200 Laps - 300. Miles

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Stage 1 Pos Stage 2 Pos Pts Status Tms Laps Playoff Pts

1 10 54 John Hunter Nemechek(i) Romco Equipment Toyota 200 1 0 Running 3 92
2 3 18 Daniel Hemric (P) Craftsman Toyota 200 2 44 Running 3 55
3 5 9 Noah Gragson (P) Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet 200 2 9 45 Running
4 6 7 Justin Allgaier (P) Hellmann's Sam's Club Chevrolet 200 4 8 43 Running
5 2 22 Austin Cindric (P) Snap On Ford 200 1 42 Running 1 34 1
6 1 16 AJ Allmendinger (P) Andy's Frozen Custard Chevrolet 200 3 10 40 Running 1 13
7 4 11 Justin Haley (P) LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 200 6 5 41 Running
8 8 20 Harrison Burton (P) DEX Imaging Toyota 200 7 33 Running 1 6
9 9 1 Michael Annett Allstate Peterbilt Group Chevrolet 200 5 7 38 Running
10 7 19 Brandon Jones (P) Century AC Supply Toyota 200 27 Running
11 13 10 Jeb Burton Ferguson Chevrolet 200 4 33 Running
12 20 98 Riley Herbst Monster Energy Ford 200 6 30 Running
13 11 8 Sam Mayer # QPS Employment Group Chevrolet 200 3 32 Running
14 22 39 Ryan Sieg CMR Construction and Roofing/A-Game Ford 200 23 Running
15 32 31 Kaz Grala(i) Bommarito.com/EasyCare Chevrolet 200 0 Running
16 26 02 Brett Moffitt HomeTown Lenders Chevrolet 200 9 23 Running
17 39 15 Bayley Currey(i) Fort Worth Screen Printing Chevrolet 200 0 Running
18 24 44 Tommy Joe Martins Market Rebellion Chevrolet 200 19 Running
19 15 92 Josh Williams WORKPRO Tools Chevrolet 200 18 Running
20 21 61 Austin Hill(i) Toyota Tsusho Toyota 199 0 Running
21 12 2 Myatt Snider Crosley Furniture Chevrolet 199 16 Running
22 30 6 Ryan Vargas # Swann Communications Chevrolet 199 15 Running
23 23 0 Jeffrey Earnhardt ForeverLawn Chevrolet 199 14 Running
24 16 36 Alex Labbe Can-Am Chevrolet 199 13 Running
25 25 47 Kyle Weatherman RAGE Chevrolet 199 12 Running
26 38 07 Joe Graf Jr. Market Chevrolet 198 11 Running
27 35 5 Mason Massey Gerber Collision& Glass Toyota 196 10 Running
28 28 90 Spencer Boyd(i) MiniDoge Chevrolet 196 0 Running
29 14 51 Jeremy Clements Straitline Chevrolet 196 8 11 Running
30 37 52 Joey Gase Donate Life Texas Chevrolet 195 7 Running
31 34 78 Jesse Little Apex Wireless Chevrolet 195 6 Running
32 31 99 Matt Mills J.F. Electric Chevrolet 193 5 Running
33 18 68 Brandon Brown DFKitCar.com Chevrolet 171 10 5 Accident
34 36 66 David Starr Whataburger Toyota 152 3 Engine
35 40 74 CJ McLaughlin SciAps Chevrolet 145 2 Suspension
36 19 4 Landon Cassill Voyager Chevrolet 108 1 Electrical
37 27 23 Tanner Berryhill Eclipse Claims Consulting Chevrolet 100 1 Accident
38 29 26 Dylan Lupton Toyota Racing Toyota 100 1 Accident
39 17 48 Jade Buford # Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet 81 1 Accident
40 33 17 JJ Yeley DFW Security Chevrolet 37 1 Engine
 

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 35 Mins, 48 Secs. Average Speed: 115.533 MPH Margin of Victory: 1.316 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 22, 9, 16, 7, 1, 11, 20, 51, 02, 68 Stage 2 Top 10: 54, 18, 8, 10, 11, 98, 1, 7, 9, 16

Prior to the start of the race no cars were sent to the rear of the field. 
 Failed to Qualify: (1) 13 Timmy Hill(i).

 Caution Flags: 10 for 54 laps; Laps: 22-25 (Competition Caution [5]); 27-30 (#4 Stalled Turn 4 [90]); 41-44 (#17 Stalled Turn 4 [78]); 47-51 (Stage 1 Conclusion [52]); 56-61 (Debris on track [74]); 65-68 (#39 Spin Turn 2 [74]); 92-97 (Stage 2 Conclusion [36]); 101-108 (#23, 26, 48 Incident Turn 2 [07]); 143-149 (#74 Spin Frontstretch [92]); 174-179 (#68 Incident Backstretch [39]).

 Lead Changes: 8 among 5 drivers; A. Allmendinger (P) 1-13; A. Cindric (P) 14-47; D. Hemric (P) 48-71; J. Nemechek(i) 72; D. Hemric (P) 73; J. Nemechek(i) 74-144; D. Hemric (P) 145-174; H. Burton (P) 175-180; J. Nemechek(i) 181-200.
Mobil 1 Driver of the Race : John H. Nemechek, #54 Sunoco Rookie of the Race : Sam Mayer, #8 

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Next Race: October 23, 2021 - Kansas Speedway

NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications @ P.O. Box 2875, Daytona Beach, FL 32120-2875
 

Featured Video

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Twitter