For the second time this season, the NASCAR Xfinity Series took on Texas Motor Speedway in the opening race of the Round of 8. With a trip to the Championship Four on the line, the drivers knew there was no holding back.
Since Texas is a familiar track, there was no practice or qualifying held before the race. Each driver’s starting position was determined as 25% driver’s finishing position from the previous race, 25% owner’s finishing position from the previous race, 35% team owner points, and 15% fastest lap from the previous race. This put last week’s winner AJ Allmendinger on the pole with the 22 of reigning champion Austin Cindric beside him. The rest of the top-five was filled out by the 18 of Daniel Hemric, the 11 of Justin Haley, and the 9 of Noah Gragson.
Pre-race tech inspection went off without a hitch the morning of the race, with only minor issues. The 26 of Dylan Lupton, 07 of Joe Graf Jr., and 74 of CJ McLaughlin failed twice and lost their pit stall selection for next weekend’s race. However, none of them failed three times meaning no one was sent to the rear for the start of the race.
At 3:10 p.m., the green flag was flown and the Round of 8 had begun. In a clean start, it was Allmendinger on the inside and Cindric on the outside, with Allmendinger taking the early lead. At lap 14, the leader had caught up to lapped traffic and was held back by the 52 of Joey Gase. This helped Cindric to take the lead for the first time of the day.
At lap 21, the competition caution was flown as a result of having no practice. None of the lead lap cars pitted, so it was once again Cindric and Allmendinger on the front row for the restart. Not even a lap later, another caution was brought out for the 4 of Landon Cassill who was stopped on the back stretch.
During this caution, only the 10 of Jeb Burton and 8 of Sam Mayer pitted to repair some damage after getting into each other on the prior restart. It was the same front row when the green flag was brought back out with Cindric holding onto the lead. Sitting in third, the 16 of Allmendinger lost multiple spots on lap 34 after some contact with the 9 of Gragson.
At lap 41, another caution was brought out for the 17 of JJ Yeley who was stalled in turn four. About half of the field pitted here, not including the leaders. In a one lap dash to the end of the stage, Cindric got a good jump and was able to hold off Gragson for the win. Those who had not yet pitted did so at the break, putting the 18 of Daniel Hemric out front.
Hemric held the lead for six laps before yet another caution was brought out, this time for debris on the track. The restart saw Hemric in the lead with the 54 of Truck Series regular John Hunter Nemecheck on his outside. The field only made it two laps before another caution was brought out, this time for the 39 of Ryan Sieg who had spun in the backstretch.
At the restart, it was Hemric on the inside and Mayer on the outside with Hemric holding onto the lead. The 18 and 54 were in a tight battle for the lead for three laps before Nemecheck finally cleared. The stage continued on without any more cautions, and Nemecheck crossed the finish line first.
Most of the leaders pitted at the stage break with Nemecheck winning the race off pit road. The 11 of Haley was penalized after his stop for an uncontrolled tire and was sent to the rear. The restart saw Hemric and Nemecheck in the front row, with Nemecheck getting a strong lead.
At lap 100, the 26 of Lupton, 48 of Jade Buford, and 23 of Tanner Berryhill got into each other in turn two, bringing out the caution. With none of the leaders pitting, it was once again Nemecheck and Hemric on the front row for the restart. The race stayed clean for the next 35 laps until the caution was brought out yet again for the 74 of CJ McLaughlin who spun. Most of the lead lap cars pitted for four tires, and Hemric took the lead after Nemecheck was sent to the rear for a crew member over the wall too soon. The 68 of Brandon Brown was also penalized for speeding.
This time, it was Hemric and the 7 of Justin Allgaier in the front row as the green flag was flown. The field made it 23 laps before the final caution was brought out for Brown who crashed in the backstretch. All but the 20 of Harrison Burton pitted at the break, putting him in the lead.
Nemecheck had recovered extremely well from his earlier penalty and sat in second place at the restart. Just two laps later, he took the lead from Burton who was later passed by Hemric for second. In the last 17 laps of the race, Nemecheck was able to hold off Hemric and earn his second career Xfinity Series victory, and first since 2018.
The 54 passed post-race inspection without any issues and was officially declared the winner. Only Hemric and the 98 of Riley Herbst had any issues, each with a loose lug nut. The next Xfinity Series race will take place on Saturday, October 23rd at 3:00 p.m. at Kansas Speedway.
Featured photo from @NASCAR_Xfinity on Twitter.