Friday March 31st, 2023 7:15PM

Nemechek rides to victory in last Xfinity race at Fontana

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

FONTANA, Calif. – After the sun set on Auto Club Speedway, John Hunter Nemechek drove his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Xfinity Seires event in the final race at the 2.0-mile track.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. The NXS drivers were scheduled to race on Saturday, leaving the speedway’s swan song to the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday, but rain and snow — yes, snow in Southern California’s Inland Empire — forced postponement of the race until Sunday.

And after Kyle Busch won the Cup race, Nemechek, who drove for Busch in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series last year, took the checkered flag in his first full-time stint in the JGR Supra.

“Man, this whole 20 team gave me one heck of a race car,” said Nemechek, who took the lead for the last time after a restart on lap 139 of 150. “Just a huge shout-out to all the guys who work on this 20 team.

“I think a lot of guys doubted (crew chief) Ben (Beshore) coming down from the Cup Series, and to have him on the box and to be able to establish the relationship I have with him, it’s been awesome. I’ve worked with a lot of the guys on the team the last couple of years, and the pit crew — they got it done when it counted tonight.”

Nemechek, who finished second by a matter of inches in the series season opener at Daytona last weekend, led a race-high 49 laps and finished .761 seconds ahead of runner-up Sam Mayer. The win was the third of his Xfinity Series career, and it came at the track where his father, Joe Nemechek, won the first Cup pole of his career and the first-ever pole at the venue.

Justin Allgaier ran third, followed by Talking Rock, Georgia’s Chandler Smith in fourth, with Josh Berry in fifth.

Mayer chased Nemechek for the final 12 laps but couldn’t get close enough to make a move for the win.

“I’m super proud of my team,” Mayer said. “We struggled early on, that’s for sure. We had our work cut out for us, but we threw the kitchen sink at it, and we ended up second. All things considered, I’m really happy and really proud of these guys.”

Cole Custer may have had the fastest car in the race. The defending race winner swept the first two stages and led twice for 46 laps. But after a lap 91 restart, Custer hit the outside wall on the backstretch, thanks to a flat tire, and sustained further damage when the Chevrolet of Austin Dillon couldn’t avoid Custer’s wounded car.

Custer finished 27th, one lap down.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Auto Club Speedway – Fontana, CA
Production Alliance Group 300 – February 26, 2023

1. (2) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 150.
2. (22) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 150.
3. (3) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 150.
4. (5) Chandler Smith #, Chevrolet, 150.
5. (19) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 150.
6. (1) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 150.
7. (6) Riley Herbst, Ford, 150.
8. (15) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 150.
9. (25) Brett Moffitt, Ford, 150.
10. (23) Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 150.
11. (14) Joe Graf, Jr., Toyota, 150.
12. (35) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 150.
13. (29) Kaz Grala, Toyota, 150.
14. (16) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 150.
15. (18) Kyle Sieg, Ford, 150.
16. (9) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 150.
17. (17) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 150.
18. (11) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 150.
19. (13) Sammy Smith #, Toyota, 150.
20. (4) Parker Retzlaff #, Chevrolet, 150.
21. (20) Rajah Caruth(i), Chevrolet, 150.
22. (7) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 150.
23. (31) Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 150.
24. (38) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 150.
25. (30) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 150.
26. (26) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 150.
27. (8) Cole Custer, Ford, 149.
28. (28) Alex Labbe, Ford, 149.
29. (34) Joey Gase, Toyota, 149.
30. (36) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 149.
31. (33) Blaine Perkins #, Chevrolet, 149.
32. (37) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, 149.
33. (10) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 149.
34. (32) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 149.
35. (21) David Starr, Chevrolet, 148.
36. (24) Tyler Reddick(i), Toyota, 148.
37. (27) C.J. McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 147.
38. (12) Gray Gaulding, Ford, Accident, 26.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 115.471 mph.

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 35 Mins, 53 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.761 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 10 for 41 laps.

Lead Changes: 23 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: J. Nemechek 1-20;A. Hill 21-24;C. Custer 25-38;J. Allgaier 39-41;C. Custer 42-73;J. Berry 74-75;S. Smith # 76-83;J. Berry 84;S. Smith # 85;S. Creed 86-95;C. Smith # 96;S. Creed 97;J. Nemechek 98-99;S. Smith # 100;J. Nemechek 101-107;S. Smith # 108-109;J. Nemechek 110-116;S. Smith # 117-118;A. Dillon(i) 119-128;J. Nemechek 129;S. Creed 130-133;J. Allgaier 134-138;J. Nemechek 139-150.

Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) John Hunter Nemechek 6 times for 49 laps; Cole Custer 2 times for 46 laps; Sheldon Creed 3 times for 15 laps; Sammy Smith # 5 times for 14 laps; Austin Dillon(i) 1 time for 10 laps; Justin Allgaier 2 times for 8 laps; Austin Hill 1 time for 4 laps; Josh Berry 2 times for 3 laps; Chandler Smith # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 00,21,16,11,98,2,25,10,20,48

Stage #2 Top Ten: 00,20,18,10,48,7,1,2,98,16

Playoff Standings: 1. Austin Hill – 98 (1 Win); 2. John Hunter Nemechek – 91 (1 Win); 3. Justin Allgaier – 91; 4. Chandler Smith – 76; 5. Riley Herbst – 73; 6. Cole Custer – 60; 7. Sam Mayer – 58; 8. Joe Graf, Jr. – 56; 9. Josh Berry – 52; 10. Ryan Sieg – 52; 11. Parker Kligerman – 51; 12. Parker Retlaff – 50.

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, Xfinity Series
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, xfinity series, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, Motorsports Live On WDUN
© Copyright 2023
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Nemechek keeps his cool for Xfinity Fontana victory
John Hunter Nemechek surged to the lead on the final restart of Sunday’s rain delayed NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway, and drove away to score the victory.
10:35PM ( 1 minute ago )
Busch gets milestone NASCAR Cup win in Fontana finale
The Kyle Busch era at Richard Childress Racing began three weeks ago at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but the coronation was reserved for Sunday in the last...
9:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hawks hire Snyder as coach to replace fired McMillan
Quin Snyder has been hired as the Atlanta Hawks coach. The Hawks reached an agreement with Snyder on a five-year deal only five days after firing McMillan on Tuesday. General manager Landry Fields stressed that Atlanta’s eighth-place standing in the Eastern Conference was not acceptable for a team that advanced to the conference finals in 2021. Snyder was coach of the Utah Jazz from the 2014-15 to 2021-22 seasons, accumulating a 372-264 record and leading the Jazz to the playoffs in six of his eight seasons. He said in the team’s statement he’s “thrilled to go back to Atlanta.”
7:58PM ( 2 hours ago )
NASCAR Cup drivers face last hurrah at Fontana track
The love of NASCAR drivers and crew chiefs for Auto Club Speedway is all but universal. With Atlanta Motor Speedway having undergone a recent repave...
5:00AM ( 2 days ago )
NASCAR’s West Coast roots are almost as deep as those in the Southeast
According to conventional wisdom, NASCAR stock car racing was a regional sport born in the Southeast and confined to that geographic area until its explosion of popularity...
12:42PM ( 3 days ago )
PODCAST: Hard Left Turn - Stenhouse unexpected winner at Daytona
Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway kept up a recent trend in the Great American Race - an unexpected winner.
9:31PM ( 4 days ago )
Xfinity Series
Around The Track Results and Points Standings Page
The latest NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Truck Series and NTT IndyCar Series race results.
By AccessWDUN
9:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
Busch gets milestone NASCAR Cup win in Fontana finale
The Kyle Busch era at Richard Childress Racing began three weeks ago at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but the coronation was reserved for Sunday in the last...
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
9:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Farewell, Fontana: NASCAR's last weekend at a racing gem
Most of NASCAR's Cup Series drivers feel like they're saying their final goodbye to a dear old friend this weekend. Auto Club Speedway's racetrack seems to be adored...
By Greg Beacham - AP Sports Writer
6:00AM ( 16 hours ago )
Wet, cold weather pushes NASCAR Xfinity race at Fontana to Sunday
hey say it never rains in Southern California, according to a popular song. But don’t tell that to the folks at Auto Club Speedway this afternoon. The start of today’s NASCAR Xfinity Series...
7:12PM ( 1 day ago )
Rain washes out practice, qualifying for NASCAR at Fontana
NASCAR has canceled practice and qualifying sessions for the weekend races at Fontana because of ongoing heavy rains. The NASCAR Cup Series drivers will race...
By The Associated Press
4:00PM ( 1 day ago )