Sunday, May 19, 2024

With Haley’s “help”, John Hunter Nemechek wins Atlanta Xfinity in overtime

Kaulig Racing began overtime of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a track dependent on drafting, with all three cars in the top four. None of them won.

Justin Haley restarted on the outside alongside Joe Gibbs Racing‘s John Hunter Nemechek while his Kaulig team-mates Chandler Smith and Daniel Hemric were behind them. When Smith ran out of fuel coming to the green flag, Haley committed to the inside to work with Hemric. Although the two closed in on Nemechek, Haley elected to try his own move to begin the final lap, leaving Hemric without a drafting partner before Cole Custer supplied a push that ultimately came too late.

After exiting his car as the runner-up, Hemric slammed his helmet against the roof in what he called a “super amount of frustration” before discussing the matter with Haley. He also finished second in the first Atlanta race in March.

“Hemric was pretty mad here that I didn’t push, but he started stumbling out of (turn) four so I got down to try to give him the best chance,” commented Haley. “Just short on fuel there.”

Hemric explained he “backed up to [Haley] there and thought I was going to have the run down the front to at least give myself an opportunity to get the #20 (Nemechek) back and he pulled out of line. I guess his car ran out of fuel too.”

Ironically, Nemechek had Hemric to thank for securing his third win of the year. He only led the final three laps including both in overtime despite starting second.

“I got a huge push from the #11, so thanks to Daniel for giving me that huge push,” Nemechek remarked. “Hats off to this entire #20 team. Early on in the race, if you would have said that we were going to win the race, I would have told you that wasn’t going to be the case. We didn’t have the fastest car tonight.”

Both stage winners Riley Herbst and Sheldon Creed retired after being involved in the same crash on lap 87. Herbst had blown a tyre, and Brandon Jones attempted to avoid him only to clip Ryan Sieg and Creed. The exit continues a sophomore campaign marred by atrocious luck for Creed, who has not scored a top ten since Portland in June with a litany of misfortunes such as wrecks and even weather. Creed had set the fastest time in the first round of Atlanta qualifying but a drivetrain problem prevented him from competing for the pole.

Greg Van Alst was also taken out in a crash that cut short the ARCA Daytona winner’s Xfinity début.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 2 20 John Hunter Nemechek Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 169 Running
2 11 11 Daniel Hemric Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 169 Running
3 7 00 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 169 Running
4 13 10 Justin Haley* Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 169 Running
5 5 1 Sam Mayer JR Motorsports Chevrolet 169 Running
6 12 19 Ty Gibbs* Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 169 Running
7 34 28 Kyle Sieg RSS Racing Ford 169 Running
8 17 48 Parker Kligerman Big Machine Racing Team Chevrolet 169 Running
9 16 92 Josh Williams DGM Racing Chevrolet 169 Running
10 3 18 Sammy Smith Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 169 Running
11 27 25 Brett Moffitt AM Racing Ford 169 Running
12 10 21 Austin Hill Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 169 Running
13 21 27 Jeb Burton Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 169 Running
14 31 26 Kaz Grala Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 169 Running
15 8 51 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 169 Running
16 20 31 Parker Retzlaff Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 169 Running
17 14 7 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 169 Running
18 24 91 Josh Bilicki DGM Racing Chevrolet 168 Running
19 4 8 Josh Berry JR Motorsports Chevrolet 168 Running
20 1 16 Chandler Smith Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 168 Running
21 28 38 Joe Graf Jr. RSS Racing Ford 167 Running
22 35 35 David Starr Emerling-Gase Motorsports Ford 167 Running
23 19 45 Jeffrey Earnhardt Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 167 Running
24 32 8 Mason Massey SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 167 Running
25 30 43 Ryan Ellis Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 167 Running
26 37 4 Garrett Smithley JD Motorsports Chevrolet 167 Running
27 25 24 Parker Chase Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 167 Running
28 29 6 Brennan Poole JD Motorsports Chevrolet 165 Running
29 36 53 Akinori Ogata* Emerling-Gase Motorsports Chevrolet 103 Transmission
30 26 7 Mason Maggio* SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 102 Electrical
31 33 36 Kyle Weatherman DGM Racing Chevrolet 97 Accident
32 22 2 Blaine Perkins Our Motorsports Chevrolet 96 Accident
33 15 9 Brandon Jones JR Motorsports Chevrolet 91 DVP
34 18 78 Anthony Alfredo B.J. McLeod Motorports Chevrolet 90 DVP
35 9 2 Sheldon Creed Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 88 Accident
36 6 98 Riley Herbst Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 88 Accident
37 23 39 Ryan Sieg RSS Racing Ford 87 Accident
38 38 44 Greg Van Alst Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 62 Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points