NASCAR Xfinity Series

John Hunter Nemechek plays playoff spoiler, wins Andy’s 335

3 Mins read
Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

John Hunter Nemechek might not be moving up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2022, but that is not stopping the Camping World Truck Series points leader from winning in the second tier. Nemechek led the final twenty laps to win Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at Texas Motor Speedway, throwing many playoff contenders’ hopes of advancing to the final round into flux.

Championship rivals A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Cindric started on the front row, and the former led the first thirteen laps before being passed by the latter. Cindric would lead to the stage win ahead of Noah Gragson, Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Jeremy Clements, Brett Moffitt, and Brandon Brown. Three yellow flags were waved for a competition caution (lap 20), Landon Cassill suffering damage in contact with Sam Mayer (25), and J.J. Yeley‘s car stopping due to a broken crankshaft (39). Cassill would rejoin and re-exit the race multiple times as mechanical issues from the damage interfered with his day.

Daniel Hemric assumed the lead to start Stage #2. Ryan Sieg brought out the lone caution of the segment when he spun on lap 63. Hemric and Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Nemechek trade the lead but the latter would secure the lead and stage victory. Hemric, Mayer, Jeb Burton, Haley, Riley Herbst, Annett, Allgaier, Gragson, and Allmendinger rounded out the top ten.

Nemechek continued to lead to start the final stage. On lap 100, Dylan Lupton and Tanner Berryhill slammed into the turn two wall and collected Jade Buford. C.J. McLaughlin spun on lap 141 for another caution, and Hemric took the top spot for the restart. Harrison Burton, also a JGR driver, became the new leader following Brown’s wreck on lap 172, but was passed by Nemechek on lap 181.

Despite being penalised after the McLaughlin caution for having a crewman over the pit wall too soon, Nemechek was able to complete his drive from the back and hold off Hemric to win his second career Xfinity race and first since 2018 at Kansas.

He is the first driver to win an Xfinity race despite declaring for Truck points since Ross Chastain in 2019, though Chastain had switched from Xfinity to Truck standings midseason. If the qualifier is narrowed to those who were running an entire Truck season, the last driver to do so and win in the Xfinity Series was Ryan Blaney in 2014, and he also achieved the feat the previous year. Nemechek also joins Allmendinger as the only drivers in 2021 to win a national series race in a higher tier than the one that they had declared points for, with Allmendinger winning the Indianapolis Cup race as an Xfinity regular.

Although he is not eligible for Xfinity points, Nemechek’s win clinches a spot in the final round of the owner’s championship for the #54 JGR car.

“(Spotter) Stevie Reeves and (crew chief) Chris Gayle kept me calm. I think this year, I’ve grown a lot as a driver and got put in position in the Truck Series as well,” said Nemechek. “I can’t say enough about this whole team. The #54 has been fast every single week. My goal coming in was to win. I had to win to prove to myself that I can do this.

“It’s just like taking that step back to the Truck Series. I wanted to get back to Victory Lane. […] It’s an amazing accomplishment to get this done, beating a teammate as well. We’re racing for an owners championship. I’m back in the #54 in Phoenix, so double championships for us when we go.”

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
11054John Hunter Nemechek*Joe Gibbs RacingToyota200Running
2318Daniel HemricJoe Gibbs RacingToyota200Running
359Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
467Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
5222Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord200Running
6116A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet200Running
7411Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet200Running
8820Harrison BurtonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota200Running
991Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
10719Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota200Running
111310Jeb BurtonKaulig RacingChevrolet200Running
122098Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord200Running
13118Sam MayerJR MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
142239Ryan SiegRSS RacingFord200Running
153231Kaz Grala*Jordan Anderson RacingChevrolet200Running
162602Brett MoffittOur MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
173915Bayley Currey*JD MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
182444Tommy Joe MartinsMartins MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
191592Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet200Running
202161Austin Hill*Hattori Racing EnterprisesToyota199Running
21122Myatt SniderRichard Childress RacingChevrolet199Running
22306Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsChevrolet199Running
23230Jeffrey EarnhardtJD MotorsportsChevrolet199Running
241636Alex LabbéDGM RacingChevrolet199Running
252547Kyle WeathermanMike Harmon RacingChevrolet199Running
263807Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet198Running
27355Mason MasseyB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyota196Running
282890Spencer Boyd*DGM RacingChevrolet196Running
291451Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet196Running
303752Joey GaseJimmy Means RacingChevrolet195Running
313478Jesse LittleB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet195Running
323199Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet193Running
331868Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet171Accident
343666David StarrMBM MotorsportsToyota152Engine
354074C.J. McLaughlinMike Harmon RacingChevrolet145Suspension
36194Landon CassillJD MotorsportsChevrolet108Electrical
372723Tanner BerryhillOur MotorsportsChevrolet100Accident
382926Dylan LuptonSam Hunt RacingToyota100Accident
391748Jade BufordBig Machine RacingChevrolet81Accident
403317J.J. YeleySS-Green Light RacingChevrolet37Engine
Bold – Currently in playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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