John Hunter Nemechek muscles his way to thrilling overtime Xfinity win at Atlanta

HAMPTON, GEORGIA - JULY 08: John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the #20 Mobil 1 Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 08, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

John Hunter Nemechek disrupted a Kaulig Racing train in Atlanta Saturday night. The team had all three of its cars lined up and blocking as the laps wound down in the NASCAR Xfinity series Alsco Uniforms 200.

Austin Hill and John Hunter Nemechek were searching for runs as the leaders diced through lapped traffic before Hill got squirrely and spun off Parker Kligerman’s front bumper to bring out the caution and set up an overtime finish.

On the restart, it was Nemechek who got the jump with a strong push from Kaulig driver Daniel Hemric behind him when the third Kaulig teammate Chandler Smith ran out of fuel behind leader Justin Haley.

“Thanks to Daniel for giving me that huge push,” Nemechek said. “Luckily we were able to execute on that restart. It was definitely wild for sure.”

The win is Nemechek’s third this season, but it was far from a dominant one since he only led three laps all day.

“Early on in the race, if you would have said that we were going to win the race, I would have told you that wasn’t going to be the case” he admitted. “We definitely didn’t have the best car all night but we were the ones who persevered and took advantage of this situation.”

“Man, this is special,” he added.

Hemric finished second. He had a run on Nemechek coming to the white flag with teammate Justin Haley pushing him, but Haley dove beneath him to try to take the position for himself. In the end, Haley ended up fourth and Hemric ended up very unhappy, throwing his helmet after getting out of the car.

According to Haley, though, his car was running on fumes and sputtered as he pushed Hemric, running out of fuel like his teammate Smith.

“Out of [Turn] 4, mine starting sputtering,” Haley claimed. “I got low just to try not to cause a pileup. Frustrating end, I hate it for Kaulig Racing, but a really good day.”

However, he nearly cleared Hemric in Turns 1 and 2 while taking the run.

As for whether he could have held off two Kaulig cars together, all Nemechek could say was “I don’t know.”

Whatever happened to Haley, Cole Custer finished third and Sam Mayer finished fifth to round out the top five.

Ty Gibbs, Kyle Seig, Parker Kligerman, Josh Williams, and Sammy Smith rounded out the top ten.

The race featured eight cautions, six for cause. The largest was a multicar accident that took out several contenders, including Ryan Seig and Sheldon Creed, who led a combined 39 laps of the 169-lap event.

“We did everything right,” said a frustrated Sieg outside the infield care center. “It just sucks to be on this side of it. We’ve been fast in all of four of these races,” referring to his home racetrack.”

The Xfinity Series returns for the Ambetter Health 200 on Saturday, July 15th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Photos: NASCAR at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sat. July 8, 2023


Owen Johnson