John Hunter Nemechek survived a roller coaster Saturday at Michigan International Speedway en route to his fifth victory of the season. The series points leader tied with Austin Hill also delivered Joe Gibbs Racing their 200th XFINITY Series victory in the process.
“It’s definitely special. Being able to win so many races for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) in Xfinity Series – I’m just the lucky guy that gets to hold the wheel of these fast Toyota’s every single weekend,” said Nemechek. “Getting 200 is sweet. We’ve been joking about it for the past few weeks, and after the past couple of weeks that we’ve had, we’ve definitely needed to rebound.”
The victory for the No. 20 team didn’t come easy as there were fireworks among the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Following a restart on lap 12, Nemechek, Ty Gibbs, and Sammy Smith all came together down the backstretch that resulted in a DNF for Sammy Smith. Gibbs would voice displeasures for Nemechek over the No. 19 in-car radio as well as gestures out the window during the caution period.
Other cars impacted in the incident included Carson Hocevar and Mason Maggio.
Gibbs later drove to a fourth-place finish.
John Hunter Nemechek after the race offered his apologies to his teammates and that he’ll talk to Gibbs after the race.
“I have to apologize to Ty (Gibbs) and the 19 team. I didn’t mean to get into him. I’m the one that has been preaching about teammates,” Nemechek told NBC after the race. “It was my fault. I put him in a bad aero spot. It looked like he got loose and then I couldn’t checkup. Just chain reaction type of events – but it is my fault. I take the blame for that. We will move on from it. Him and I will have a discussion about it.
Josh Berry placed second by 1.495 seconds behind Nemechek. Brandon Jones and Sam Mayer joined Gibbs in the top five by placing third and fifth.
Riley Herbst, AJ Allmendinger, Parker Kligerman, Parker Retzlaff, and Jeb Burton took home top 10s.
Justin Allgaier showed strength at the front of the field in the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports after a second-place start. Allgaier took the lead from the onset to win stage one of the event over teammate and pole-sitter Josh Berry. Issues later struck the team after Gibbs spun Allgaier on pit road and then later sustained a penalty for crew members over the wall too soon. Allgaier went on to finish 14th.
Cole Custer had a strong run going early in his No. 00 entry after starting 13th and finishing stage one in third. The team continued inside the top 10 to finish sixth in stage two before issues would come their way in the final stage.
Custer reported a violent vibration in the corners but that everything was fine while on straightaways. After much debate, the team elected to stay out hoping that a caution would come their way. Luckily for them, a caution flew with 11 circuits remaining and allowed Custer to pit for scuffs.
Custer went on to finish 16th on the leaderboard.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series moves to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on August 12th. The event will air live on USA and the IMS Radio Network at 5:30 p.m. ET.
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