John Hunter Nemechek dominates for 10th Xfinity career victory at Las Vegas

In an event mired with gusty winds, John Hunter Nemechek zipped his way to a dominant victory in The LiUNA! at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 2, for his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the 2024 season.

“We definitely worked hard for this one,” Nemechek said. “We were good, but we weren’t great. Tyler (Allen), all of the guys on the 20 team just kept adjusting on it. Hats off to them. They made this Toyota GR Supra faster every single time that we made a pit stop. It continued to get faster, faster and faster. The Safeway Toyota GR Supra looked good, proud to have all of the brands that we do, all of our partners – feels good to come back and win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and to do it here in Vegas – I’ve been so close, so many times with Joe Gibbs Racing, so to finally get it done, it feels really good.”

The 26-year-old, second-generation Nemechek from Mooresville, North Carolina, led five times for a race-high 99 of 200-scheduled laps in an event where he started 12th but raced his way to the front as he led for the first time on Lap 56 and finished in second place behind teammate Chandler Smith during both stage periods. After swapping the lead with Smith at the start of the final stage period, Nemechek, who reassumed the top spot during a restart with 72 laps remaining, then withstood a late round of green flag pit stops to reclaim the lead with 10 laps remaining, where he would muscle away from pole-sitter Cole Custer, Smith, and Austin Hill to cash in his first Xfinity Series victory of the 2024 campaign and his 10th of his career.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, March 1, Cole Custer, the reigning Xfinity Series champion, notched his first Xfinity pole position of the 2024 season after posting a pole-winning lap at 181.281 mph in 29.788 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Chandler Smith, who clocked in the second-fastest qualifying lap at 181.178 mph in 29.805 seconds. 

Before the event, Anthony Alfredo dropped to the rear of the field in a backup car while Justin Allgaier, Blaine Perkins and Sage Karam also dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective entries.

When the green flag waved and the race started, AJ Allmendinger made a bold three-wide move beneath Custer and Chandler Smith through the first two turns in his early bid for the lead. Through Turns 3 and 4, however, Smith muscled ahead and proceeded to lead the first lap as Allmendinger was left to battle Austin Hill for the runner-up spot while Custer went up the track and was engaged in a tight three-wide battle for fourth place that involved Parker Retzlaff and Parker Kligerman. As the field behind continued to jostle for early spots, Chandler Smith was stretching his early advantage by more than half a second over Hill. 

Through the first five scheduled laps, Chandler Smith was leading by more than seven-tenths of a second over Hill followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Allmendinger and Custer while Ryan Sieg, Kligerman, Riley Herbst, Parker Retzlaff and Sammy Smith were running in the top 10 ahead of Aric Almirola, Sheldon Creed, Sam Mayer, Corey Heim and Brandon Jones. Meanwhile, rookie Jesse Love was in 17th, Justin Allgaier was running 20th and Shane van Gisbergen was mired within the top 25. 

Two laps later, the event’s first caution period flew after Retzlaff, who was running in the top 10, slid sideways in front of Sammy Smith entering Turn 4 and was hit by Sam Mayer, which damaged both vehicles, as Almirola barely dodged the carnage. 

When the race restarted under green on Lap 13, the field fanned out to three lanes again approaching the first turn as Chandler Smith managed to retain the lead in front of Allmendinger and Hill while Kligerman muscled his way up to fourth place as Nemechek, who was pinned in the middle of the three-wide battle, slid back to sixth place in between Custer and Ryan Sieg. Amid the early battles ensuing behind, Chandler Smith maintained a reasonable advantage over Allmendinger and Hill by the Lap 15 mark. 

Through the first 25 laps, Chandler Smith was leading by more than a second over Custer followed by Nemechek, Hill and Allmendinger while Ryan Sieg, Kligerman, Herbst, Allgaier and Brandon Jones were running in the top 10. Behind, Sammy Smith was back in 11th ahead of Creed, Jesse Love, Heim and Kyle Weatherman while Jeb Burton, Brennan Poole, Leland Honeyman, Kyle Sieg and Hailie Deegan followed suit in the top 20 along with Josh Williams, Almirola, Anthony Alfredo, Ryan Ellis and Jeremy Clements. 

Ten laps later, Chandler Smith extended his advantage to more than two seconds over teammate Nemechek while Custer and Hill battled for third place as they trailed by four seconds. By then, Shane van Gisbergen had taken his car to the garage following a mechanical issue. 

When the first stage period concluded on Lap 45, Chandler Smith captured his first Xfinity stage victory of the 2024 season. Teammate Nemechek settled in second followed by Hill, Herbst and Custer while Allmendinger, Allgaier, Kligerman, Ryan Sieg and Brandon Jones were scored in the top 10. 

Under the stage break, the lead lap field led by Chandler Smith pitted for service. Following the pit stops, Hill exited pit road first followed by Herbst, Nemechek, Custer, Allmendinger and Allgaier while Chandler Smith lost six spots due to a jack issue and exited seventh amid his pit service. 

The second stage period started on Lap 53 as Hill and Herbst occupied the front row. At the start, Hill and Herbst dueled for the top spot through the first two turns until Hill muscled ahead with the lead exiting the backstretch. With Hill leading the race, Nemechek and Herbst battled for the runner-up spot in front of Allmendinger and Custer while Chandler Smith was trying to carve his way back to the front from sixth place. 

Just past the Lap 55 mark, Nemechek rocketed past Hill for the lead as Hill, who had debris clogging his front grille, was being pressured and overtaken by Herbst, Chandler Smith and a host of competitors, where he would drop to seventh place before he cleared the debris off of his grille. With Hill mired in the top 10 and mired in a bevy of traffic through the on-track battles, Nemechek retained the lead by half a second over both Herbst and Chandler Smith by the Lap 60 mark. 

Just past the Lap 70 mark, Nemechek continued to lead by eight-tenths of a second over Chandler Smith while third-place Herbst trailed by more than a second. With Allgaier and Allmendinger running in the top five, Hill was back in sixth ahead of Kligerman, Ryan Sieg, Custer and Sammy Smith while Jesse Love, Brandon Jones, Almirola, Creed and Heim trailed in the top 15 as Josh Williams was up to 16th place. 

Ten laps later, Nemechek retained the lead by six-tenths of a second over teammate Chandler Smith while Herbst, Allgaier and Allmendinger continued to run in the top five ahead of Hill and Kligerman. Meanwhile, Jesse Love cracked the top 10 as he was in ninth ahead of Custer while teammates Sammy Smith and Brandon Jones battled for 11th ahead of Almirola. 

When the second stage period concluded on Lap 90, Chandler Smith overtook teammate Nemechek on the final lap to capture his second consecutive Xfinity stage victory of the 2024 season. Herbst settled in third followed by Allgaier and Allmendinger while Hill, Love, Kligerman, Custer and Ryan Sieg were scored in the top 10. 

During the stage break, the lead lap field led by Chandler Smith returned to pit road for service. Following the pit stops, Smith retained the lead after exiting pit road ahead of Herbst and Nemechek while Hill, Allmendinger, Custer and Love followed suit. 

With 104 laps remaining, the final stage commenced as teammates Chandler Smith and Nemechek occupied the front row. At the start, both dueled for the lead for a full lap and they continued to battle dead even for the top spot for the following lap until Nemechek managed to muscle ahead of Smith and manage both lanes to his control. With Nemechek leading Smith, Herbst trailed in third ahead of Hill, Allgaier and Allmendinger while the rest of the field behind jostled for spots. 

At the halfway mark on Lap 100, teammates Nemechek and Chandler Smith dueled for the lead again, but Nemechek withstood his ground and maintained the top spot while running on the outside lane. Nemechek would retain the lead until Chandler Smith reassumed the top spot with 90 laps remaining. By then, Herbst trailed in third place by a second as Hill and Allgaier continued to run in the top five. 

With less than 80 laps remaining, Chandler Smith was leading by a tenth of a second over teammate Nemechek while third-place Herbst trailed by nearly a second ahead of Allgaier, Hill and Allmendinger. The caution would then fly with 73 laps remaining after Retzlaff stalled his car towards the exit of pit road. This resulted in the entire lead lap field led by Chandler Smith returning to pit road for service, where Nemechek managed to reassume the lead after beating Smith off of pit road first followed by Hill, Herbst, Allgaier and Allmendinger. 

When the race restarted under green with 72 laps remaining, Nemechek fended off teammate Chandler Smith and Hill to maintain the lead from the outside lane while the rest of the field behind fanned out and jostled for late positions through the backstretch. Amid the battles, Nemechek continued to lead with less than 70 laps remaining. He would also maintain the lead with less than 60 laps remaining as Herbst was running in second ahead of Chandler Smith, Hill and Allgaier. 

With 50 laps remaining, Nemechek extended his advantage to more than a second over Herbst while teammate Chandler Smith trailed in third place by more than three seconds. Hill and Allgaier continued to run in the top five while Custer, Sammy Smith, Allmendinger, Almirola and Brandon Jones were running in the top 10 ahead of Ryan Sieg, Kligerman, Love, Williams and Hailie Deegan. 

Ten laps later, Nemechek stabilized his advantage to a second over Herbst and over three seconds over Chandler Smith while Hill and Allgaier remained in the top five. By then, Ryan Sieg cracked the top 10 as he was running 10th behind Custer, Allmendinger, Sammy Smith and Almirola while Creed overtook Deegan for 15th. 

Another five laps later, green flag pit stops slowly commenced as Brandon Jones pitted his No. 9 Menards Chevrolet Camaro. Chandler Smith would surrender third place to pit during the following lap along with Herbst, Hill, Custer, Sammy Smith, Love, Allmendinger and others before Nemechek pitted with 31 laps remaining. Amid the pit stops, Jeb Burton was penalized for speeding on pit road.  

With Nemechek pitting, Allgaier assumed the race lead with 31 laps remaining followed by Almirola, Williams, Creed and Poole. Allgaier, who was one of seven competitors opting to stretch the fuel tank as far as possible, retained the lead by nine seconds over Williams with 25 laps remaining. Meanwhile, Nemechek was mired back in eighth but was running as the highest competitor who had recently pitted ahead of Herbst and Chandler Smith. 

Then with 21 laps remaining, Allgaier, who led 11 laps during his fuel stretch, pitted his No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro under green as Williams assumed the race lead. By then, Nemechek carved his way up to third place while Hill, Chandler Smith and Herbst were trying to keep pace with Nemechek. Amid their charge to the front, Williams retained the lead with 15 laps remaining as he was leading by less than 12 seconds over Nemechek. 

Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Nemechek reassumed the lead after Williams, who led the previous 10 laps, pitted under green. By then, Nemechek was out in front by more than four seconds over Hill while Chandler Smith, Custer and Herbst trailed by nearly six seconds in the top five.  

With five laps remaining, Nemechek continued to lead by five seconds over a tight three-car battle for the runner-up spot that involved Hill, Custer and Chandler Smith while Herbst trailed by more than six seconds. Meanwhile, Allmendinger trailed in sixth place by seven seconds as Ryan Sieg, Sammy Smith, Brandon Jones and Allgaier were mired in the top 10 and trailing the lead by nearly 22 seconds. 

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Nemechek remained as the leader by nearly five seconds over Custer. Amid the gusty temperatures, Nemechek was able to navigate his way around the Vegas circuit smoothly for a final time and cycle back to the frontstretch as the winner as he claimed the checkered flag by more than four seconds over Custer. 

With the victory, Nemechek, a full-time NASCAR Cup Series competitor for Legacy Motor Club and a part-time Xfinity competitor for Joe Gibbs Racing, scored his 10th career win in the Xfinity Series, second across NASCAR’s top three national touring series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and his ninth driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, with JGR claiming its first victory in 2024 and its fourth at Vegas in the last 10 years. The victory was also the first for rookie crew chief Tyler Allen. 

“Hats off to all the guys on this No. 20 team from Joe Gibbs Racing,” Nemechek said on FS1. “Man, it’s awesome to come back out here and win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a limited number of starts. Our goal was to come and win as many [races] as we possibly could. Nothing else matters. Congrats to [crew chief] Tyler [Allen], who’s the crew chief this year of the No. 20 car. His first win as a crew chief. We’ll go celebrate in Victory Lane. Man, it feels so good to win here in Las Vegas.”

Custer, the pole winner, settled in second place followed by Chandler Smith, Austin Hill and Riley Herbst while Allmendinger, Ryan Sieg, Sammy Smith, Brandon Jones and Allgaier finished in the top 10.

There were 12 lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured four cautions for 22 laps. In addition, 13 of 38 starters finished on the lead lap. 

Following the third event of the 2024 Xfinity Series season, Austin Hill leads the regular-season standings by 22 points over Chandler Smith and 27 over Riley Herbst. 


1. John Hunter Nemechek, 99 laps led 

2. Cole Custer 

3. Chandler Smith, 74 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner 

4. Austin Hill, six laps led 

5. Riley Herbst 

6. AJ Allmendinger 

7. Ryan Sieg 

8. Sammy Smith 

9. Brandon Jones 

10. Justin Allgaier, 11 laps led 

11. Parker Kligerman 

12. Aric Almirola 

13. Corey Heim 

14. Josh Williams, one lap down, 10 laps led 

15. Hailie Deegan, one lap down 

16. Anthony Alfredo, one lap down 

17. Jesse Love, one lap down 

18. Leland Honeyman, one lap down 

19. Brennan Poole, one lap down 

20. Kyle Sieg, one lap down 

21. Kyle Weatherman, one lap down 

22. Ryan Ellis, one lap down 

23. Jeb Burton, two laps down 

24. JJ Yeley, two laps down 

25. Jeremy Clements, three laps down 

26. Sheldon Creed, three laps down 

27. Nick Leitz, three laps down 

28. Patrick Emerling, four laps down 

29. Garrett Smithley, five laps down 

30. Joey Gase, five laps down 

31. Blaine Perkins, five laps down 

32. BJ McLeod, five laps down 

33. CJ McLaughlin, four laps down 

34. Dawson Cram, eight laps down 

35. Parker Retzlaff – OUT, Fuel pump 

36. Sage Karam – OUT, Transmission 

37. Shane van Gisbergen – OUT, Engine 

38. Sam Mayer – OUT, Accident 

Next on the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona, for the Every Dig. Every Time. 200. The event is scheduled to occur next Saturday, March 9, at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1. 

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


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