Thursday July 18th, 2024 6:23AM

Mayer takes overtime win in Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway

By John Bohnenkamp Associated Press

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — Sam Mayer knew winning the overtime restart of Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway was all about choosing the right line.

And Mayer knew the top line was best on a track where everyone has been getting a weekend education on where to run.

Mayer took the lead from Riley Herbst on the restart to pick up his second win of the season and sixth of his career.

Mayer, who led 47 laps in the 250-lap race, pulled ahead on the restart after John Hunter Nemechek’s crash six laps from the finish, getting clear of Herbst coming out of the second turn to win by .146 seconds.

“I knew it was really, really important to have the top lane and have the momentum coming off of it, too,” Mayer said. “So I did pretty much all I could to get the best launch I could and to optimize Turn 2. Once I was clear, I knew my car was definitely better than the others close by. So I knew once I got clear, it was smooth sailing.”

The way Meyer launched, though, bothered Herbst. Herbst was unhappy with Mayer after the checkered flag, bumping Mayer on the back straightaway and cutting Mayer’s left tire, a fitting end to a day when tire troubles caused plenty of problems.

“The guy who won absolutely brooms us in (turns) 1 and 2, that was frustrating,” Herbst said. “And for him to door me going down the front straightaway on the green-white-checkered, that was a little bit frustrating. But all in all, it was fun racing with him on the green-white-checkered.”

“I knew immediately it was 50-50, either, ‘I hate you,’ or, ‘Congratulations,’” Mayer said. “I think that we know the answer to that, unfortunately.”

Mayer acknowledged that he got into Herbst earlier in the race.

“We were literally fighting for four feet of asphalt all around the track,” Mayer said. “I did all I could do to get there, and I overstepped it a bit. We both came back at the end and had a shot (at the win), which was really cool.”

Asked if he would have some payback for Mayer in a future race, Herbst said, “I wouldn’t know if I owe him one. He’s going to call me this week and apologize and show me his Superman photo or whatever it is he does.”

Corey Heim finished third. Sammy Smith and Sheldon Creed rounded out the top five. Series points leader Cole Custer finished sixth.

Saturday’s race marked the return of the series to Iowa Speedway. The series had raced at the track from 2009-19, but returned as part of the weekend that includes Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the .875-mile oval, which received a partial repaving in the turns in the spring.

There were 14 lead changes among nine drivers, which eliminated some worries that drivers wouldn't be able to pass on the new surface.

But the race was slowed by nine caution flags, most caused by tire troubles similar to those that caused problems for drivers during Friday’s Cup Series practice. AJ Allmendinger, Jeb Burton, Jesse Love and Justin Allgaier had crashes after their right front tires blew out. Austin Hill was running in second place when he crashed on lap 217 after his left front went flat. Nemechek crashed with six laps left when a left front tire went down after contact with Creed a few laps earlier.

Chandler Smith won the first two stages, leading 131 laps. But Smith slid back through the field after the start of the final stage and couldn’t recover, finishing eighth.

Shane Van Gisbergen, who came in having won the last two races in the series, struggled all weekend and finished 34th. Van Gisbergen started at the back of the field after going to a backup car because of a crash during Friday’s practice. He was lapped early in the race, and then on lap 86 crashed coming out of Turn 2 and was out of the race.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, Xfinity Series
  • Associated Tags: nascar xfinity series
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