Saturday, March 2, 2024

Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed escape Charlotte with Round of 8 berths

Sheldon Creed could only watch as Daniel Hemric threw his car to the inside of Parker Kligerman and Kaz Grala as they came to the finish, but he let out the biggest sigh of relief when it turned out Hemric was unable to pass either of them.

Creed and Hemric were separated by just two points as Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval came to an end, with whoever having the edge getting to advance to the Round of 8 of the playoffs. While Creed was running tenth, Hemric was seventh and needed to pass just more cars as a tie between the two would be broken in Hemric’s favour as he had the best finish of the round. Kligerman was also below the cut line but would have needed every leader in front of him to retire, leaving him in a scramble for pride with Hemric and Grala.

Grala barely beat Kligerman for fifth, who in turn edged out Hemric by a hood’s length. Creed settled for tenth to take the eighth and final spot in the next round.

“I wasn’t nervous at the end, but it definitely wasn’t fun or comfortable,” said Creed. “Luckily, I had the #10 (Hemric) and #48 (Kligerman) only two cars ahead of me on track, so I could watch and judge off their moves to see if I needed to throw a Hail Mary on the final lap. Our #2 team sort of stumbled our way through the first round of the playoffs to advance to the Round of 8 though, so we are fortunate that we had the luck that we did. We still have work to do to bring faster race cars to the track. It was a battle out there, especially for a road course.”

Creed was not the only driver needing a near-miracle to qualify for the next round. Sam Mayer was even further back at thirty-four points below the cut line entering Charlotte, but put himself in prime position early by winning the pole and leading all but seventeen laps.

Cole Custer, who locked himself into the Round of 8 on points, challenged Mayer for the win in the closing ten laps. They comprised the front row for the last restart with five laps remaining, and Mayer overtook him on the inside a lap later. Custer was unable to catch up. The win is Mayer’s third of 2023, all of which have come on road courses after Road America and Watkins Glen.

The final green flag occurred after Justin Allgaier and Jeb Burton, the latter at the bottom of the Round of 12 prior to Charlotte, wrecked going into turn one. Allgaier was already safe thanks to his playoff-opening win at Bristol.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 1 1 Sam Mayer JR Motorsports Chevrolet 67 Running
2 7 00 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 67 Running
3 3 8 Josh Berry JR Motorsports Chevrolet 67 Running
4 9 98 Riley Herbst Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 67 Running
5 14 26 Kaz Grala Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 67 Running
6 6 48 Parker Kligerman Big Machine Racing Team Chevrolet 67 Running
7 4 10 Daniel Hemric Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
8 38 20 John Hunter Nemechek Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 67 Running
9 8 21 Austin Hill Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
10 5 2 Sheldon Creed Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
11 22 18 Sammy Smith Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 67 Running
12 17 16 Chandler Smith Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
13 25 39 Ryan Sieg RSS Racing Ford 67 Running
14 31 19 Myatt Snider^ Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 67 Running
15 10 91 Alex Labbé DGM Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
16 12 11 Jordan Taylor Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
17 32 6 Brennan Poole JD Motorsports Chevrolet 67 Running
18 29 08 Stefan Parsons SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
19 28 44 Rajah Caruth* Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
20 33 92 Josh Williams DGM Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
21 26 45 Leland Honeyman Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
22 23 31 Parker Retzlaff Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
23 15 51 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 67 Running
24 16 24 Connor Mosack Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 67 Running
25 18 07 Josh Bilicki SS-Green Light Racing Ford 67 Running
26 13 4 Kyle Weatherman JD Motorsports Chevrolet 67 Running
27 20 66 Sage Karam MBM Motorsports Ford 67 Running
28 24 02 Blaine Perkins Our Motorsports Chevrolet 67 Running
29 11 9 Brandon Jones JR Motorsports Chevrolet 67 Running
30 21 78 Anthony Alfredo B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 67 Running
31 35 38 Joe Graf Jr. RSS Racing Ford 67 Running
32 36 28 Kyle Sieg RSS Racing Ford 67 Running
33 37 35 Alex Guenette Emerling-Gase Motorsports Toyota 67 Running
34 19 27 Jeb Burton Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 66 Running
35 34 53 Conor Daly* Emerling-Gase Motorsports Chevrolet 66 Running
36 30 43 Ryan Ellis Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 63 Accident
37 2 7 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 60 Accident
38 27 25 Brett Moffitt AM Racing Ford 40 Ignition
DNQ 87 Andy Lally Peterson Racing Group Chevrolet
DNQ 50 Preston Pardus Pardus Racing Chevrolet
DNQ 17 Boris Said Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
DNQ 74 Devin Jones CHK Racing Chevrolet
Bold – Currently in playoffs
^ – Currently in owner playoffs
Underline – Eliminated from playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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