Saturday, July 13, 2024

Sam Mayer wins in wild Watkins Glen finish

Ty Gibbs was looking to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series road course race for the eighth time and second in a row on Saturday at Watkins Glen International, and things shaped up to be that way for 84 laps. Unfortunately, the race was 86 laps long.

Gibbs dominated the race from the pole as he led 70 laps and claimed both stages. A wreck that began when Justin Allgaier spun in front of the field with five laps remaining set up overtime, with Gibbs on the front row alongside Austin Hill. Although Gibbs had the early advantage, Sam Mayer tried to move his move on the inside entering turn one, resulting in contact that spun Gibbs.

Sheldon Creed, barely hanging on to the final playoff spot and seeking a win to clinch his place, snuck by to take the lead. Mayer chased down Creed before passing him shortly before the final lap and cruising the rest of the way. Interestingly, Mayer and Creed respectively finished 1–2 in the #1 and #2 cars, which last occurred at the Xfinity level in 1990 when Mark Martin and L.D. Ottinger did so at Myrtle Beach; Martin and Ottinger also accomplished it at Bristol the year prior.

The win is Mayer’s second of his Xfinity career, the first coming at another road course in Road America three rounds prior; he also finished second to Gibbs on the Indianapolis infield circuit. While Mayer stated the bump with Gibbs was incidental, the two had scuffled at Martinsville in April 2022 after overtime contact there.

“I wheel-hopped it,” began Mayer. “That’s unfortunate and I feel bad for doing that. Obviously, you don’t want to take out any car like that. Just trying to get another win in the Xfinity Series. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I was in there, I put my nose in there and that’s part of it.

“That’s an accident, but I think everyone can agree it’s okay for an Xfinity Series regular to win this race.”

Gibbs, a Cup Series driver, sarcastically said one could “call it a racing incident” if a driver was to “race out of desperation like that and you wheel hop and clean the leader out.” With the spin, he finished seventeenth.

Although the main victim of Mayer’s move, Gibbs was not the only driver dissatisfied with the winner. Austin Hill restarted second alongside Gibbs before running wide in an attempt to avoid the spin, only to be spun himself amid a cloud of smoke. After finishing fourteenth, Hill said Mayer could “kiss my ass.”

Eleven drivers failed to finish the race, the most for an Xfinity event at Watkins Glen since twelve bowed out of the 2019 edition. Among the retirements were Max McLaughlin in his Xfinity début after crashing on lap 47 and Kyle Busch, the victim of a transmission failure.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 5 1 Sam Mayer JR Motorsports Chevrolet 86 Running
2 13 2 Sheldon Creed Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 86 Running
3 14 48 Parker Kligerman Big Machine Racing Team Chevrolet 86 Running
4 17 91 Ross Chastain* DGM Racing Chevrolet 86 Running
5 19 24 Connor Mosack Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 86 Running
6 12 20 John Hunter Nemechek Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 86 Running
7 4 00 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 86 Running
8 18 16 Chandler Smith Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 86 Running
9 2 17 Alex Bowman* Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 86 Running
10 25 27 Jeb Burton Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 86 Running
11 24 9 Brandon Jones JR Motorsports Chevrolet 86 Running
12 32 6 Brennan Poole JD Motorsports Chevrolet 86 Running
13 33 4 Kyle Weatherman JD Motorsports Chevrolet 86 Running
14 11 21 Austin Hill Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 86 Running
15 21 45 Sage Karam Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 86 Running
16 3 7 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 86 Running
17 1 19 Ty Gibbs* Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 86 Running
18 9 18 Sammy Smith Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 86 Running
19 37 28 Kyle Sieg RSS Racing Ford 86 Running
20 7 8 Josh Berry JR Motorsports Chevrolet 86 Running
21 26 39 Ryan Sieg RSS Racing Ford 86 Running
22 36 38 Joe Graf Jr. RSS Racing Ford 85 Running
23 6 11 Daniel Hemric Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 84 Running
24 22 08 Alex Labbé SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 83 Running
25 28 7 Josh Bilicki JR Motorsports Ford 83 Running
26 29 31 Parker Retzlaff # Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 82 Running
27 8 10 Kyle Busch* Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 78 Transmission
28 15 26 Kaz Grala Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 78 Accident
29 20 25 Brett Moffitt AM Racing Ford 66 Suspension
30 35 43 Ryan Ellis Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 65 Running
31 27 78 Anthony Alfredo B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 61 Axle
32 38 35 Stanton Barrett Emerling-Gase Motorsports Toyota 56 Suspension
33 23 44 Stefan Parsons Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 45 Brakes
34 31 96 Max McLaughlin FRS Racing Chevrolet 43 Accident
35 10 98 Riley Herbst Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 37 Suspension
36 34 92 Josh Williams DGM Racing Chevrolet 23 Accident
37 16 51 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 21 Suspension
38 30 02 Blaine Perkins Our Motorsports Chevrolet 11 Transmission
DNQ 53 Patrick Emerling Emerling-Gase Motorsports Chevrolet
DNQ 74 Casey Carden* CHK Racing Chevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points