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TC Daily Pit Stop: Sam Mayer Scores Clutch Victory in Xfinity Cutoff Race; Tyler Reddick on Pole for Cup Race; Larson Starting Out Back After Practice Crash
TC Daily Pit Stop: Sunday, October 8th, 2023
After three straight finishes of 35th place or worse, Sam Mayer came into Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for The Cure 250 at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL sitting in a must-win situation.
With his strong record on the road courses this season, Mayer was understandably considered to be one of the favorites for Saturday’s event, and that was before we went out and captured the pole.
Simply put, the 20-year-old driver had a stranglehold on the NASCAR Xfinity Series field at Charlotte’s ROVAL, leading a race-high 50 of 67 laps en route to his third victory of the season, all of which have come on road courses.
The walk-off victory solidifies Mayer’s place in the ‘Round of 8’ for the NASCAR Xfinity Series post-season, allowing the Franklin, Wisconsin native to continue his breakout season.
Cole Custer was second, followed by Josh Berry, Riley Herbst, and Kaz Grala inside the top-five. Parker Kligerman, Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Hill, and Sheldon Creed rounded out the top-10.
Parker Kligerman, Daniel Hemric, Jeb Burton, and Josh Berry entered the Charlotte ROVAL with hopes of making it to the ‘Round of 8’ in the NASCAR Xfinity Series post-season, but left the race on the wrong side of the cutline.
Though he had a flawless race, capturing 18 stage points, Kaulig Racing’s Daniel Hemric found himself eliminated from the playoffs by just two points. His car seemed to excel on the long runs but it struggled a tad on the short runs. Ultimately, the driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet was proud of his efforts but understood where he fell short.
“I’m extremely proud of this team and how we executed today. We had a plan, stuck to the plan,” he shared post-race. “We didn’t lose it today, we lost it at Texas. So that falls on myself, I have big shoulders I can handle it”.
When NASCAR announced a newly adjusted restart zone for the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, many expected chaos. And guess what? Late in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250, we got it.
Justin Allgaier, who won the opening Stage of the race, and led 10 laps in the race, found himself with a great shot at winning the race. However, Jeb Burton and the No. 27 Jordan Anderson Racing team opted to stay on the track on old tires, in order to gain track position in hopes of stealing a win.
The gamble didn’t pay off.
Burton over-cooked the first turn, and skidded into Allgaier, which sent the driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro hard into the outside wall. In an instant, Allgaier’s bid to win was over.
This season, Tyler Reddick and 23XI Racing have been one of the strongest teams when it comes to road courses on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, winning earlier in the season at Circuit of The Americas.
Now, with the team’s championship hopes relying on a strong run from the Corning, California native, the two-time Xfinity Series champion has delivered, and will lead the field to green in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400.
Christopher Bell was second-quickest in the final round of qualifying, and for the fourth time in six playoff events, will start from the front row in his No. 20. Non-playoff driver Daniel Suarez clocked in third.Bubba Wallace, after being second in practice, posted the fourth-quickest lap in the final round of qualifying, with Kyle Busch in fifth.
AJ Allmendinger, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-eight – as the drivers who made a lap in the final round before the late caution.
That late caution came as a result of 23XI Racing team owner Denny Hamlin, who got loose under braking entering the backstretch chicane, before spinning his No. 11 Toyota Camry TRD and hopping over the curbs.
It was a less-than-ideal start to the Bank of America ROVAL 400 race weekend for Kyle Larson and Ty Dillon as both drivers crashed into the outside wall during NASCAR Cup Series practice early on Saturday afternoon.
Dillon was the first car to go into the outside wall, as his car got a little loose, and veered into the outside wall in the opening minutes of the session.
The No. 77 Spire Motorsports team looked over Dillon’s car for quite a while in the garage area, but ultimately decided to move to a backup car for Sunday’s race.
As Group A’s practice session was coming to a close, Larson, who enters the race weekend 15 points above the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff cutline, also lost control heading into the high banked oval Turn 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
After a breakthrough victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway, Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Penske Ford Mustang Team are officially through to the ‘Round of 8’ in the NASCAR Playoffs.
But does this momentum and a guaranteed spot in the ‘Round of 8’ help his chances of taking the title at Phoenix?
Blaney advancing to the ‘Round of 8’ isn’t necessarily a surprise based on prior history. The 29-year-old driver has been successful in moving to the third round of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and five times overall in his NASCAR Cup Series career.
This year, however, hasn’t been a typical season for Team Penske. As several of the Ford teams have improved as the season has progressed, the usually rock-solid Team Penske organization has struggled to find speed across its three in-house teams, especially on the intermediate tracks.
“You just hope to learn from that stuff and if you’re in the same position, you try to just think about it a little bit more differently and what can you do to alter that outcome and not put yourself in a bind like that and are hopefully running well enough like we were last year to be in those spots again,” Blaney said in a media availability at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.
“When you make mistakes you hope you learn from them you have to learn to move on from them but you have to learn from them first and it’s nice to be able to have a go at it here in the Round of 8 and see if we can do a little bit better job this time.”
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