Mayer spins Gibbs, rallies for wild Xfinity victory at Watkins Glen

From conserving the low fuel needed to finish to spinning dominant Ty Gibbs out of the lead during an overtime shootout, Sam Mayer raced his way to an overwhelming victory in the Shriners Children’s 200 at The Glen on Saturday, August 19.

The 20-year-old Mayer from Franklin, Wisconsin, led twice for eight of 86 over-scheduled laps in an event where he started fifth and assumed the lead for the first time with 10 laps remaining amid a late gamble to stretch his low fuel tank to the distance ahead of teammate Justin Allgaier and pole-sitter Ty Gibbs. During a late caution period with seven laps remaining, where Mayer elected to remain on the track with the lead ahead of Allgaier and Gibbs, Mayer was quickly overtaken by Gibbs while trying to block him through the frontstretch. Despite falling back to third, Mayer received another opportunity to win amid another caution period for a wreck that involved Allgaier and sent the event into overtime.

Then, at the start of overtime, Mayer bumped and ran into the rear of Gibbs which sent Gibbs spinning. With Gibbs out of contention, Mayer, who despite sustained minor fender damage to his car while running on fumes with his low fuel tank, moved up to second as Sheldon Creed assumed the lead. Then after Creed missed the final turn approaching the start of the final lap, Mayer capitalized on Creed’s misfortune to assume the lead for good as he methodically navigated his way around the circuit for a final time before zipping back to the frontstretch and claiming the second checkered flag of this season and of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Saturday, Ty Gibbs, winner of last weekend’s Xfinity event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, notched his first pole position of the season after posting a pole-winning lap at 125.019 mph in 70.549 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Alex Bowman, who posted the second-best qualifying lap at 124.721 mph in 70.718 seconds.

Prior to the event, however, Bowman joined Cole Custer, Brett Moffitt and rookie Parker Retzlaff as competitors who dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments and mechanical repairs to their respective entries. Bowman’s move enabled Daniel Hemric to move up and start alongside Ty Gibbs on the front row.

When the green flag waved and the race commenced, Ty Gibbs jumped ahead with an early advantage as the field fanned out entering the first turn. As Gibbs led through the first four turns before entering a brief backstretch approaching the Inner Loop, Justin Allgaier made his way into the runner-up spot while Hemric retained third in front of teammate Kyle Busch, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. With the field navigating through the Inner and Outer Loop turns before entering the final set of turns to Turn 7 and back to the frontstretch at The Glen, Gibbs proceeded to lead the first lap.

Through the second lap, Gibbs retained the lead by four-tenths of a second over Allgaier. By then, Busch and Mayer moved up to third and fourth while Hemric fell back to fifth as the field jostled and bumped for early positions around the circuit.

Through the first five scheduled laps, Ty Gibbs was leading by more than two seconds over Allgaier followed by Mayer, Kyle Busch and Berry while Hemric, rookie Sammy Smith, Riley Herbst, Austin Hill and John Hunter Nemechek were in the top 10. Behind, Sheldon Creed was in 11th ahead of Parker Kligerman, Kaz Grala, Jeremy Clements and rookie Chandler Smith while Ross Chastain, Brandon Jones, Alex Labbe, Jeb Burton and Sage Karam occupied the top 20. Meanwhile, Custer was back in 21st and Bowman was mired in 25th behind Ryan Sieg. In addition, Brennan Poole plummeted to 37th after spinning through the Inner Loop Bus Stop corner amid contact with Max McLaughlin a lap prior.

At the Lap 10 mark, Ty Gibbs continued to lead by more than three seconds over Allgaier while Mayer retained third. By then, Berry moved up to fourth while Busch fell back to fifth in front of Austin Hill, Nemechek, Sammy Smith, Herbst and Creed. In the midst of the early racing, the event remained under green flag conditions amid an on-track condition in the Bus Stop corner when Jeremy Clements blew a right-front tire and clipped Chandler Smith as both went off the course with Smith spinning backward. A few laps earlier, Connor Mosack encountered on-track issues of his own after spinning in the Bus Stop corner.

Not long after, Kyle Busch pitted his No. 10 LA Golf Chevrolet Camaro under green to address debris on his front grille that affected his brakes. With Busch losing spots amid his pit stops, Ty Gibbs extended his advantage to more than three seconds over Allgaier. Gibbs would stabilize his advantage to nearly four seconds over Allgaier just past the Lap 15 mark. By then, Herbst, who was running seventh, was reporting the transmission popping out of gear in his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang, though he continued to run under full pace around the circuit.

At the conclusion of the first stage period on Lap 20, Ty Gibbs claimed his fourth Xfinity stage victory of the 2023 season after retaining the lead from the drop of the green flag. Allgaier settled in second followed by teammates Mayer and Berry while Austin Hill, Nemechek, Creed, Herbst, Custer and Kligerman were scored in the top 10.

With the event proceeding under green just past the Lap 20 mark to start the second stage, the event’s first caution period shortly flew when Ryan Ellis came to a stop on the course. By then, select names that included Bowman and Chandler Smith pitted for service. Smith, however, would be penalized for driving his No. 16 Quick Tie Products Chevrolet Camaro through too many pit boxes while exiting his upon his completed service.

During the first caution period, nearly the entire lead lap field led by Ty Gibbs pitted while Bowman remained on the track to inherit the race lead. Following the pit stops, Gibbs exited first followed by Allgaier, Hill, Berry, Creed and Nemechek.

Just as the event was set to restart under green on Lap 24, the caution period continued to stand when Josh Williams sustained heavy front nose damage to his No. 92 Nordic Logistics Chevrolet Camaro. At the same time, Moffitt took his car to the garage due to a rear-end issue while the on-track safety crew proceeded to address any debris or fluid leaking on the course near the carnage scene.

Following a lengthy caution period, the race restarted under green on Lap 26 as Bowman and Ty Gibbs occupied the front row. At the start, Bowman and Ty Gibbs dueled for the lead entering the first turn until Gibbs used the outside lane to his advantage as he muscled ahead of Bowman prior to entering Turns 2 to 4 to reassume the lead. With Gibbs leading Bowman and Allgaier through the Inner Loop Bus Stop corner, Hill was in fourth ahead of Berry, Creed and Custer while Nemechek was in eighth ahead of Herbst and Kligerman. As the field continued to jostle and scramble for positions for a full lap around the circuit, with even mechanical debris flying around the circuit, Gibbs stretched his advantage to seven-tenths of a second over Bowman while third-place Allgaier trailed by more than a second.

During the following lap, Grala and Sammy Smith rubbed fenders through the Bus Stop corner as Grala moved up to 12th over Smith followed by Hemric. In the process, Ty Gibbs extended his advantage to a second over Bowman while Allgaier, Austin Hill and Berry remained in the top five. By then, Custer moved his No. 00 HighPoint Ford Mustang up to sixth in front of Creed, Mayer, Herbst and Kligerman while Gibbs continued to lead at the Lap 30 mark.

On Lap 31, the event’s second caution period flew when Grala, who was running 12th, was bumped by Sammy Smith entering the Bus Stop corner as he went off the course and plowed his No. 26 Island Coastal Lager Toyota Supra through the course’s grass and Go Bowling sign before returning back onto the racing surface while sending debris on the track. During the caution period, Grala, who ended with a clogged front grille full of grass, ran into the rear of Smith’s No. 18 Pilot Flying J Toyota Supra, which sustained front nose damage, to express his displeasure over the contact.

During the caution period, select names that included Sammy Smith, Grala, Retzlaff, Joe Graf Jr., Chandler Smith and Kyle Sieg pitted while the rest led by Ty Gibbs remained on the track.

During the event’s restart on Lap 33, Gibbs retained the lead after a strong restart while Allgaier and Bowman battled and bumped for the runner-up spot as Allgaier claimed the spot through Turns 2 to 4. In the process, Austin Hill closed in on Allgaier and Bowman from fourth place while Custer and Berry battled for fifth. With the field battling, jostling and kicking up dust through the Bus Stop corner, Ty Gibbs stretched his advantage to more than a second over Allgaier.

A lap later, Bowman reclaimed the runner-up spot over Allgaier, who went wide and off the course through Turn 1 after barely scrubbing the wall through the frontstretch, while Hill moved his No. 21 Bennett Transporation Chevrolet Camaro up to third. Custer and Mayer would pursue Allgaier within close quarters amid the racing while Ty Gibbs continued to lead by more than a second at the Lap 35 mark.

Then with three laps remaining in the second stage period, Herbst, who was in ninth, pitted under green due to a track bar issue to his car. With the track bar broken on his car, Herbst, who returned on the course only to have a trail of smoke billowing out of his car due to his mechanical issue, took his car to the garage and eventually retired as Ty Gibbs retained the lead ahead of Bowman and Austin Hill.

At the conclusion of the second stage period on Lap 40, Ty Gibbs claimed his second consecutive stage victory of the day. Bowman trailed in second along with Hill, Allgaier and Custer while Mayer, Berry, Nemechek, Creed and Kligerman were scored in the top 10. By then, Mosack was down in 26th after running his No. 24 Toyota Genuine Parts Supra off the course in Turn 10 while battling Stanton Barrett for position.

With the event commencing under a continuous green flag period with 42 laps remaining, Ty Gibbs was leading by more than two seconds over Bowman while Hill, Allgaier and Custer remained in the top five. A few laps later, Hill and Custer moved up to third and fourth while Allgaier settled in fifth in front of teammate Mayer. By then, Ty Gibbs extended his advantage to more than four seconds over Bowman.

Then with 37 laps remaining, the caution flew when Max McLaughlin slipped and collided into the outside wall in Turn 7 as he emerged with significant rear-end damage to his No. 96 Randco Chevrolet Camaro. During the caution period, nearly the entire lead lap field led by Ty Gibbs pitted for service while Kyle Weatherman remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Hill exited first over Gibbs while Bowman, Custer, Creed, Nemechek and Mayer followed in pursuit.

With 32 laps remaining, the race restarted under green. At the start, Gibbs launched a bold three-wide move on both Weatherman and Hill to assume the lead entering the first turn as the field fanned out. With Gibbs retaining the lead from Turns 2 to 4, Hill pursued in second while Bowman followed suit in third along with Custer, Creed and Allgaier as Weatherman started to go backward.

During the following lap and as the field continued to jostle for late positions with nearly 30 laps remaining, Ty Gibbs stretched his advantage to more than a second over Austin Hill while third-place Bowman also trailed by more than a second, though Bowman started to close in on Hill for second along with Custer and Allgaier. By then, Weatherman fell out of the top 10 while Sammy Smith and Grala, amid their on-track contact, were in ninth and 10th ahead of Kyle Busch and Hemric.

With 28 laps remaining, Nemechek, who was running ninth, pitted his No. 20 Mobil 1 Toyota Supra to ensure that he would have enough fuel to the scheduled distance. Teammate Sammy Smith would also pit for fuel during the following lap while the rest of the field led by Ty Gibbs remained on the track, with a majority uncertain if they would have enough to finish the race.

Three laps later, Ty Gibbs extended his advantage to more than three seconds over Austin Hill while third-place Bowman trailed by nearly four seconds. Custer and Allgaier remained in the top five while Mayer, Creed, Grala, Kyle Busch and Hemric trailed in the top 10. By then, Kligerman, Berry, Sage Karam, Brandon Jones and Ryan Sieg were in the top 15 while teammates Nemechek and Sammy Smith were in 25th and 26th.

Down to the final 20 laps of the event, Ty Gibbs stabilized his advantage to more than three seconds over Austin Hill while Bowman, Custer and Allgaier remained in the top five. Behind, Mayer, Creed, Grala, Kyle Busch and Hemric continued to run in the top 10 amid continuous concerns of fuel shortages for the front-runners.

A lap later, trouble struck for third- and fourth-place runners Bowman and Custer after Custer, who tried to make a move beneath Bowman, bumped the curb and made contact with Bowman in Turn 1 as both spun together in the turn. Both continued to run without drawing a caution as Mayer and Allgaier moved up the leaderboard. Bowman managed to fall back to fifth in his No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro while Custer was back in eighth. A lap later, Custer’s event that went from good to bad became worse when he got loose and spun off the course and up the hill in Turn 3 as he continued to plummet below the leaderboard.

With 15 laps remaining, Ty Gibbs retained the lead by more than three seconds over Austin Hill while Mayer, Allgaier and Bowman remained in the top five ahead of Creed, Grala, Hemric, Kligerman and Kyle Busch.

Three laps later, Austin Hill surrendered the runner-up spot to pit for four fresh tires and fuel. Ryan Sieg would also pit not long after while Ty Gibbs continued to lead over runner-up Mayer and Allgaier. Another two laps later, however, Ty Gibbs pitted his No. 19 He Gets Us Toyota Supra from the lead for fuel as Mayer assumed the lead. Upon exiting pit road, Gibbs blended back onto the racetrack in sixth place behind Creed while Grala and Hemric would pit with eight laps remaining while Mayer and Allgaier continued to run first and second on the track.

Then with seven laps remaining, the caution flew when Parker Retzlaff went off the course and spun sideways before he got his No. 31 Funkaway Chevrolet Camaro stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 6. By then, Hemric, who endured a slow pit stop, took his car to the garage due to a mechanical issue to his car. During the caution period, a majority of the field led by Bowman pitted while the rest led by Mayer, Allgaier and Ty Gibbs remained on the track amid mixed strategies.

Down to the final four laps of the event, the race restarted under green as teammates Mayer and Allgaier occupied the front row in front of Ty Gibbs and Kyle Busch. At the start, the field fanned out as Mayer tried to block Ty Gibbs through the frontstretch. Gibbs, though, managed to rocket ahead and overtake Mayer before overtaking Allgaier through the first turn when Allgaier went wide. With the entire field also going wide and off the course through the first turn while Kyle Busch fell off the pace, Gibbs and Mayer dueled for the lead through Turns 2 to 4 until Gibbs rocketed away. Mayer was then left to fend off teammate Allgaier and Hill for the runner-up spot until Hill bumped and overtook the spot from Mayer through the Bus Stop Corner.

Then exiting the Bus Stop Corner, trouble struck when Allgaier made contact with Custer and was sent spinning. In the ensuing chaos, Sammy Smith bumped and turned Bowman into the path of Connor Mosack while Brandon Jones and Grala collided into Allgaier, causing a caution as debris was left scattered across the Outer Loop Corner. The on-track carnage was enough to send the event into overtime.

During the first overtime attempt, where Ty Gibbs and Austin Hill occupied the front row, Gibbs muscled ahead of the field that was stacked in two lanes entering the first turn. Then in Turn 1, Mayer collided with Gibbs and sent Gibbs for a spin. In the ensuing chaos, Hill got hit by Custer as he spun while the rest of the field muscled away exiting Turn 1. With the field navigating through Turns 2 to 4, Sheldon Creed emerged with the lead followed by Mayer and Berry. Creed would continue to lead through the Inner and Outer Loop corners while Mayer trailed in second. Then exiting the Outer Loop, Berry got loose and spun his No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro from third place as he fell out of contention while the event remained under green. Not long after, Creed, who nearly got loose while trying to fend off Mayer in Turn 6, slipped again in Turn 7 and missed the turn, which allowed Mayer to assume the lead in his No. 1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet Camaro.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Mayer remained as the leader by six-tenths of a second over Creed while Sammy Smith spun behind in the middle of the field. With the event remaining under green flag, Mayer, who continued to run under full pace amid concerns of running low on fuel, managed to cycle his way around the circuit for a final time and beat Creed by nine-tenths of a second to grab his second checkered flag in four weeks at Watkins Glen.

With the victory, Mayer notched his second NASCAR Xfinity Series career victory in his 74th series start, all occurring on road course events, and he became the fourth Xfinity regular to notch multiple victories in this year’s Xfinity season. In addition to becoming the first full-time Xfinity competitor to win at Watkins Glen since Austin Cindric made the last accomplishment in 2019, Mayer notched the third victory of the season for JR Motorsports and the 12th of the season for the Chevrolet nameplate.

“The first [restart], I got used up,” Mayer said on USA Network. “I thought I had a good [restart] there, but all glory to God for this one because we had to work our tails off for it. [Crew chief] Mardy [Lindley] on top of the [pit] box, everyone on pit road. We earned this one, for sure. It feels good to have a car as fast as Xfinity 10G, no matter where you go and no matter what the situation is. It feels really, really good. I wheel-hopped [the car]. That’s unfortunate. I feel bad for [spinning Gibbs]. Obviously, you don’t want to take out a [Joe] Gibbs car like that or any car like that. Just trying to get another win in the Xfinity Series. I got a lot of catching up to do. I was in there. I put my nose in there and that’s part of it. Fenders are fenders. That’s an accident, but I think everyone can agree that it’s OK for an Xfinity Series regular to win this race.”

While Mayer celebrated the victory in front of the stands, Gibbs was left disappointed on pit road after leading a race-high 70 laps and ended up 17th in the final running order.

“It just really sucks,” Gibbs said. “Definitely sucks to get cleaned out there. I had a good time running these things this year. I think it’s just a part of life and it’s part of racing. You just get over it. When stuff like that happens and desperate moves like that happen, it’s just part of it and you just got to keep going. I don’t really know how much of a conversation you can really have with [Mayer] in that situation. We, kind of, grew up around racing each other. He has more starts than I do and this is his second win. So, congratulations to him on his second win. Definitely wished I could’ve gotten my 13th [win] there.”

Creed, who was a lap away from claiming his first Xfinity victory, settled in the runner-up spot for the fourth time of his career while Parker Kligerman finished third for his fifth top-five result of the season as he is only three points below the top-12 cutline to make the 2023 Xfinity Series Playoffs.

Ross Chastain and Connor Mosack finished in the top five while Nemechek, Custer, Chandler Smith, Bowman and Jeb Burton completed the top 10 on the track. Notably, Austin Hill ended up 14th, Allgaier settled in 16th in front of Ty Gibbs and Sammy Smith, Berry fell back to 20th upon his late spin and Hemric ended up 23rd. In addition, Kyle Busch ended up 27th after retiring due to a late transmission issue.

There were nine lead changes for six different leaders. The race featured five cautions for 18 laps. In addition, 21 of 38 starters finished on the lead lap.

With three Xfinity regular-season events remaining on the schedule, Austin Hill leads the regular-season standings by nine points over John Hunter Nemechek and 34 over Justin Allgaier.

Results.

1. Sam Mayer, eight laps led

2. Sheldon Creed

3. Parker Kligerman

4. Ross Chastain

5. Connor Mosack

6. John Hunter Nemechek

7. Cole Custer, one lap led

8. Chandler Smith

9. Alex Bowman, four laps led

10. Jeb Burton

11. Brandon Jones

12. Brennan Poole

13. Kyle Weatherman, two laps led

14. Austin Hill

15. Sage Karam

16. Justin Allgaier, one lap led

17. Ty Gibbs, 70 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner

18. Sammy Smith

19. Kyle Sieg

20. Josh Berry

21. Ryan Sieg

22. Joe Graf Jr., one lap down

23. Daniel Hemric, two laps down

24. Alex Labbe, three laps down

25. Josh Bilicki, three laps down

26. Parker Retzlaff, four laps down

27. Kyle Busch – OUT, Transmission

28. Kaz Grala – OUT, Accident

29. Brett Moffitt – OUT, Suspension

30. Ryan Ellis, 21 laps down

31. Anthony Alfredo – OUT, Axle

32. Stanton Barrett – OUT, Suspension

33. Stefan Parsons – OUT, Brakes

34. Max McMaughlin – OUT, Accident

35. Riley Herbst – OUT, Suspension

36. Josh Williams – OUT, Accident

37. Jeremy Clements – OUT, Suspension

38. Blaine Perkins – OUT, Transmission

Next on the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the series’s second and final visit of the season to Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The event is scheduled to occur next Friday, August 25, at 7:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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