John Hunter Nemechek locked his position into the Championship 4 after the second stage of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Martinsville. Nemechek who leads the series in wins, top-fives and top-10 finishes, will battle Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer and Sam Mayer for the championship.
Sammy Smith looked like he was going to clinch his own Championship 4 berth much of the afternoon as the Iowa-native started from the pole for the first time and led a career-high 148 laps. In a wild overtime finish, Smith advanced to the third-place position to lead Toyota, but come up just short of his first title race.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Race 32 of 33 – 131.5 miles, 250 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Justin Allgaier*
2nd, Sheldon Creed*
3rd, SAMMY SMITH
4th, Riley Herbst*
5th, Josh Berry*
15th, MYATT SNIDER
18th, JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK
28th, KAZ GRALA
31st, CONNOR MOSACK
SAMMY SMITH, No. 18 Pilot Flying J/Pringles Toyota GR Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
Can you walk me through the closing laps?
“They were telling me that he wasn’t going to make any enemies. I asked him if he was going to choose the top, and he said he wasn’t going to do that. I had a good run on him and he went to block me down to the bottom. He didn’t want to make any enemies, but I’m really frustrated right now. He definitely made one. I’m not going to let that one go, and we will see how things go.”
Will this carry over to Phoenix?
“I won’t carry it over. I wish he would have raced me with more respect – knowing that if he’s not going to do anything, I wasn’t planning on wrecking him like the 2 (Sheldon Creed) and the 21 (Austin Hill) did. Just thanks to Pilot Flying J, TMC, Allstate Peterbilt Group and Pringles for being on the car this weekend. We will move on to Phoenix.”
How do you come to terms on not making the Championship 4?
“Very frustrating, because I think we did everything right. It’s just kind of typical for this race for what it brings, and we just have to move on to next week.”
JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK, No. 20 Mobil 1 Toyota GR Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 18th
What happened on those closing laps?
“A bunch of carnage. Guess that is Martinsville. I know the 21 (Austin Hill) turned down on the 2 (Sheldon Creed) getting into (turn) three, and it was on from there. I really don’t know what happened. All I know is I hit the wall with the right front tire, and then there was a bunch of carnage on the front straightaway and caught on fire. Last time we were on fire here, we were in victory lane – wish we were in victory lane – but all that matters is we advanced and are headed to run for a championship in Phoenix.”
Is that just Martinsville last lap, everybody knows they have to win to get in?
“Everyone is going to go for broke – win to get in, whatever it takes. It definitely sucks to not have a good finish coming out of here, but on the bright side we are racing for a championship next week in Phoenix.”
Did locking in early help give you a chance to run for the win?
“Yeah, for sure – we were going to try to lock in early, and then go for the win, and that’s what we tried to do – just came up short.”