In his 188th start across NASCAR’s top three national touring series, Ryan Truex silenced his doubters and emerged triumphant for the first time after claiming his first Xfinity Series career victory in the A-GAME 200 at Dover Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 29, following a dominant run from start to finish.
The 31-year-old Truex from Mayetta, New Jersey, led seven times for a race-high 124 of 200-scheduled laps, including the final 11, and swept both stages en route to a long-awaited first career victory at the Monster Mile, his home race track. The victory occurred in Truex’s fifth start of this season in the Xfinity circuit, all in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 “all-star” entry, and in his 89th series start overall.
With on-track qualifying that was scheduled to occur on Friday being canceled due to rain, the starting lineup for the main event was determined through a metric formula per the NASCAR Rule Book. As a result, Parker Kligerman was awarded the pole position and was joined on the front row by Cole Custer. The only competitor to drop to the rear of the field was Timmy Hill, who did so due to unapproved adjustments to his entry.
When the green flag waved and the race commenced, Kligerman and Custer dueled for the lead through the first turn until Custer muscled ahead on the inside lane. He then proceeded to lead the first lap ahead of Kligerman and Sheldon Creed as the rest of the field jostled early through two lanes for positions.
On the fifth lap, the first caution flew when Jeremy Clements, who was running in the top 10, spun his car toward the apron between Turns 1 and 2. By then, Custer was leading by half a second over Creed while Kligerman fell back to third. Austin Hill and rookie Chandler Smith were in the top five while Jeb Burton, Brandon Jones, Ryan Truex, Herbst and Justin Allgaier occupied the top 10.
During the following restart on the ninth lap, Creed gained a strong start on the inside lane as he assumed the lead from Custer. Behind, teammate Hill battled and overtook Custer for the runner-up spot as Custer fell back to third. As the field behind continued to jostle for early positions, Creed started to pull away from the field with the lead.
At the Lap 15 mark, Creed was leading by a second over teammate Hill followed by Custer, Truex and Kligerman while Riley Herbst, Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Chandler and Brett Moffitt Moffitt were running in the top 10.
Two laps later, Ryan Ellis spun off of Turn 2, but the race remained under green flag conditions as Ellis managed to steer his car and proceed below the apron. By Lap 19, however, the caution flew when Anthony Alfredo, who lost a brake rotor through the backstretch earlier, stalled his car up the high lane in Turn 2. Alfredo’s caution served as the competition caution initially planned for Lap 20. By then, Creed was ahead by a second over teammate Hill while Truex, Custer and Kilgerman were in the top five. In addition, Josh Berry was up in ninth, Nemechek was in 11th, Hemric was back in 14th ahead of Jeb Burton, rookie Sammy Smith was scored in 16th ahead of Sam Mayer and Derek Kraus was in 19th.
During the competition caution, select names led by Creed remained on the track while the rest of the field pitted. Following the pit stops, Allgaier was penalized for speeding on pit road.
When the race restarted on Lap 24, Creed fended off teammate Hill while restarting on the outside lane to retain the lead, though Hill kept his Richard Childress Racing teammate close within his sights. Behind and amid the on-track battles, Custer was in third while fending off Berry and Truex while Nemechek was up in sixth.
Just past the Lap 30 mark, Creed was leading by three-tenths of a second over teammate Hill, who had Truex, Custer and Berry hounding him for the runner-up spot. Behind, Nemechek retained sixth ahead of Jones, Kligerman, Sammy Smith and Clements while Chandler Smith, Hemric, Jeb Burton, Sam Mayer and Ryan Sieg were in the top 15.
Soon after, the battle for the lead between Creed and a hard-charging Truex ignited as Truex tried to assume the top spot over Creed, but the latter maintained his ground and the top spot. Behind, Nemechek carved his way up to third followed by Hill and Berry while Custer fell back to seventh behind Jones. In addition, Kligerman, who was awarded the pole, was slowly dropping below the leaderboard and out of the top 10.
Then on Lap 34, Truex, who pitted during the competition caution, assumed the lead for the first time over Creed. Another four laps later, teammate Nemechek, who also pitted during the competition caution, moved up to second as Creed fell back to third in front of teammate Hill and Berry.
When the first stage concluded on Lap 45, Ryan Truex, who despite being mired in lapped traffic, claimed the stage victory after retaining the lead by more than three seconds over teammate Nemechek. Creed settled in third followed by Hill and Berry while Brandon Jones, Sammy Smith, Custer, Hemric and Chandler Smith were scored in the top 10. By then, Kligerman fell back to 12th and Allgaier was mired back in 18th as 31 of 38 starters were scored on the lead lap.
Under the stage break, nearly the entire field led by Truex pitted. Following the pit stops, Truex exited first followed by Hill, Nemechek and Allgaier, who only opted for two fresh tires to gain a bevy of spots, while Sammy Smith and Jones exited in the top six. Back on the track, however, Kyle Weatherman opted to remain on the track as he inherited the lead. Amid the pit stops, rookie Parker Retzlaff and Herbst were penalized for speeding on pit road.
The second stage started on Lap 53 as Weatherman and Truex occupied the front row. At the start, Weatherman briefly jumped ahead, but Truex rocketed past him to reassume the lead in Turn 1. Hill quickly followed pursuit in second along with Nemechek while Weatherman was trying to retain fourth ahead of Allgaier, Sammy Smith, Brandon Jones, Chandler Smith and the rest of the field.
By Lap 60, Truex was leading by more than a second over Hill and more than three seconds over Nemechek as Allgaier navigated his way past Weatherman for fourth. Behind, Sammy Smith and Chandler Smith were in sixth and seventh while Custer, Berry and Creed were scored in the top 10.
Nearly three laps later, the caution returned when Kligerman got turned by newcomer Corey Heim entering the backstretch, which sent Kligerman’s No. 48 Big Machine Racing Chevrolet Camaro spinning before he slammed the inside wall. The incident spoiled Kligerman’s opportunity of both winning the race and claiming the final Dash 4 Cash prize as he sustained significant damage to both the front and rear of his car. The incident also prompted Kligerman to express his displeasure to Heim on the track with an obscene gesture.
During the following restart on Lap 69, Truex and Hill dueled for the lead for nearly a lap until Truex managed to pull ahead on the outside lane entering the frontstretch to retain the lead. As Truex fended off Hill for the lead, Nemechek battled Allgaier for third as Chandler Smith moved up to fifth in front of Custer and Sammy Smith. Meanwhile, Creed was back in eighth ahead of Berry and Mayer.
Just past the Lap 75 mark, Truex was leading by nearly two seconds over Hill followed by Nemechek and Allgaier while Custer battled and overtook Chandler Smith for fifth. By then, Creed was in seventh in front of Sammy Smith while Berry, who went up the track a few laps ago, fell back to 10th in front of Hemric.
When the second stage concluded on Lap 90, Truex, who approached and carved his way through lapped traffic, claimed his second consecutive stage victory of the day. Hill trailed in second place by more than four seconds while Nemechek, Allgaier, Custer, Chandler Smith, Creed, Sammy Smith, Mayer and Berry were scored in the top 10. By then, 27 of 38 starters were scored on the lead lap.
Under the stage break, the leaders led by Truex returned to pit road for service. Following the pit stops, Hill exited with the lead ahead of Truex and followed by Nemechek, Custer, Chandler Smith and Creed.
With 101 laps remaining, the final stage started as Hill and Truex occupied the front row. At the start, Hill fended off Truex on the outside lane to maintain the lead. Shortly after, Nemechek battled and overtook teammate Truex for second as the field fanned out and battled for positions. Then just as the field surpassed its halfway mark, the caution returned when Creed got loose amid a three-wide battle for sixth with Allgaier and Sammy Smith as he spun in the middle of the track in Turn 3. Despite the incident, Creed managed to continue without sustaining any damage to his No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet Camaro as the rest of the field dodged him.
During the following restart with 94 laps remaining, Hill fended off Nemechek on the outside lane to maintain the lead. Truex, however, followed pursuit in second as he then set his sights on Hill for the lead. Then with 88 laps remaining, Truex seized an opportunity as he side-drafted Hill to reassume the lead.
With 80 laps remaining, Truex was leading by more than a second over Hill as third-place Nemechek trailed by more than two seconds. Behind, Custer was in fourth ahead of Allgaier while Sammy Smith, Berry, Hemric, Jones and Mayer were in the top 10. Meanwhile, Chandler Smith was in 11th ahead of Herbst, Jeb Burton, Kraus and Moffitt while Kaz Grala, Creed, Ryan Sieg, Weatherman and Clements were in the top 20.
Ten laps later, Truex continued to lead as he extended his advantage to more than two seconds over Hill. He then extended his advantage to more than three seconds over Hill with 60 laps remaining and more than four seconds with 50 laps remaining. By then, Allgaier was in fourth ahead of Berry and behind Nemechek.
With less than 40 laps remaining, Truex retained the lead by more than five seconds over Allgaier while Hill fell back to third, trailing by more than six seconds. Berry and Custer were in the top five while Sammy, Jones, Mayer, Creed and Hemric were in the top 10. By then, green flag pit stops commenced as Nemechek and Sammy Smith pitted. A host of names, including Truex, would pit as the laps dwindled past the final 30-lap mark.
Back on the track and with 27 laps remaining, Creed cycled into the lead followed by Herbst and select names while Truex was back in fifth and awaiting the fate of those who had yet to pit.
Then with 11 laps remaining, Creed, who was vying for his first victory and the final Dash 4 Cash prize, surrendered the lead to pit under green. Herbst would also pit, though he would eventually be penalized for speeding on pit road. Their pit stops allowed Truex to cycle his No. 19 Toyota Genuine Accessories Supra back to the lead as he was leading by more than five seconds over Berry.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Truex, who led by more than five seconds with five laps remaining, remained as the leader by more than four seconds over Berry. Having a clear path in front of him and with no challengers closing in, Truex managed to cycle around his home track smoothly for a final time and return to the frontstretch to claim his first elusive checkered flag in the Xfinity circuit and across NASCAR’s top three national touring series.
With the victory, Truex, whose previous best result in the series was second three times, became the 174th different competitor to win in the Xfinity circuit and the third first-time winner of this season in the series alongside teammate Sammy Smith and Chandler Smith. He became the 22nd different competitor to win an Xfinity event for Joe Gibbs Racing as he also recorded the fourth victory of the season for both the JGR organization and for the Toyota nameplate.
The victory was also redemption for Truex, who was within striking distance of winning his first Xfinity event at Dover in 2012 until his advantage was erased amid lapped traffic, which enabled Joey Logano to overtake Truex with six laps remaining as Truex ended up in a disappointing second place. Ironically, Truex’s first NASCAR career victory at Dover, his home track, occurred nearly 16 years after his brother and former Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr., recorded his first Cup career victory at the Monster Mile.
“I’m out of breath, man,” Truex said on FS1. “Oh my god. Just so thankful. All these fans, my team, everybody that stuck behind me. Most people didn’t believe in me and I still did. Just so thankful to be here. This is amazing. [With] Twenty [laps] to go, I was just waiting for something to happen and I was just praying, ‘Please, guys. Just keep everything straight. Let’s get to the end of this. What a car. What an amazing GR Supra. I’m speechless. I thought I’d be more emotional right now but when I crossed the flag [finish line], I couldn’t even talk on the radio. I’m not an emotional guy. This is for everyone that doubted me.”
“I belong here,” Truex added. “I just proved that. I’ve known it for a while. People around me have known it for a while. Now, everybody in this garage area knows it. My goal is to drive one of these cars full-time next year. Hopefully, we can make it happen.”
Berry finished in second place followed by teammate Allgaier while Hill and Nemechek completed the top five. Nemechek, Sammy Smith, Custer, Brandon Jones and Hemric finished in the top 10.
With today’s Xfinity event serving as the fourth and final Dash 4 Cash event of the 2023 season, the final $100,000 prize from the initiative went to Custer, who claimed the prize for a second consecutive week after finishing eighth.
There were 11 lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured six cautions for 32 laps. Only 10 of 38 starters finished on the lead lap.
Following the 10th event of the 2023 Xfinity Series season, Austin Hill leads the regular-season standings by four points over John Hunter Nemechek, 38 over Chandler Smith, 43 over Josh Berry and 49 over Justin Allgaier.
1. Ryan Truex, 124 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner
2. Josh Berry
3. Justin Allgaier
4. Austin Hill, 18 laps led
5. John Hunter Nemechek
6. Sammy Smith
7. Cole Custer, 13 laps led
8. Brandon Jones
9. Sam Mayer
10. Daniel Hemric
11. Sheldon Creed, one lap down, 41 laps led
12. Kaz Grala, one lap down
13. Chandler Smith, one lap down
14. Kyle Weatherman, one lap down, four laps led
15. Brett Moffitt, one lap down
16. Ryan Sieg, one lap down
17. Parker Retzlaff, one lap down
18. Jeb Burton, two laps down
19. Jeremy Clements, two laps down
20. Derek Kraus, two laps down
21. Riley Herbst, two laps down
22. Joe Graf Jr., two laps down
23. Josh Williams, two laps down
24. Brennan Poole, three laps down
25. Ryan Ellis, three laps down
26. Rajah Caruth, four laps down
27. Gray Gaulding, four laps down
28. Stefan Parsons, four laps down
29. Kyle Sieg, five laps down
30. Timmy Hill, five laps down
31. Garrett Smithley, five laps down
32. Chad Chastain, seven laps down
33. Patrick Emerling, eight laps down
34. CJ McLaughlin, eight laps down
35. Corey Heim – OUT, Engine
36. Anthony Alfredo – OUT, Brakes
37. Jeffrey Earnhardt – OUT, Engine
38. Parker Kligerman – OUT, Accident
With the 2023 Dash 4 Cash initiative concluded, the next regular-season event on the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the series’ first of two scheduled visits to Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. The event is scheduled to occur on May 13 at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1.