It was John Hunter Nemechek’s moment to shine when the NASCAR Xfinity Series hit seven laps to go in the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Race leader Parker Kligerman got loose and pushed second-place Justin Allgaier up the track on lap 196, allowing Nemechek to capitalize on the duo’s tangle and shoot into the lead on the 1.5-mile oval.
The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota kept control of the field through the final lap, finishing 1.005 seconds ahead of Kligerman’s No. 48 Chevrolet at the checkered flag to secure his seventh NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the season.
“It is absolutely amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish so far this year and I don’t think we are done yet,” Nemechek said. “My goal coming into today was to lock ourselves in to the next round … Going into the ROVAL and not having to worry about that is definitely a relief. We are still going to go there and try to play strategy, try to win the race and get some more playoff points, but focus on Vegas, Miami and Martinsville and then on to Phoenix.”
Nemechek led 38 total laps over the course of the 200-lapper.
JGR’s Sammy Smith finished third, while Kaulig Racing’s Chandler Smith and Allgaier, who swept the opening two stages, completed the top five. Cole Custer, Austin Hill, Sheldon Creed, Brandon Jones and Brett Moffitt filed into the top 10.
The top eight finishers in Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 were all playoff drivers.
Other than Nemechek, Custer was the only driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8 on points.
Playoff drivers who didn’t fare quite so well included Daniel Hemric (24th), Josh Berry (27th), Jeb Burton (31st) and Sam Mayer (38th).
Mayer drifted into the turn two wall on the opening lap, with the ensuing damage ending his day in Texas. Hemric sustained damage at several points in the race, but the No. 10 Kaulig Racing entry held together long enough for Hemric to finish 24th.
Meanwhile, Berry was involved in an incident with Trevor Bayne on lap 97.
“On the restart with Josh (Berry) on the outside, I just had to lift a little early and when I did to unlock the rear end, I got loose. He gave me room, and I hate it for him, because he did. He moved up a lane. Still slid up and got his left rear, and when we made contact, we were both going around. It’s pretty unfortunate,” Bayne said.
Burton lost his left-rear wheel on lap 108 that stemmed from a vibration in the car.