Sam Mayer scores Xfinity win by an inch in photo finish at Texas

It was a heartbreaking end to the day at Texas Motor Speedway for Ryan Sieg, who lost by just .002 seconds to Justin Allgaier in a photo finish at the line. But while Sieg had taken off and stretched his lead in a late restart, Mayer hunted him down methodically with six laps to go and made his move on the very last lap.

“That’s absolutely unreal,” Mayer said of the margin at the line. “It took every ounce of me to do that today.”

It’s the first win for JR Motorsports this season. Even more surprising is it’s just the powerhouse team’s second race finishing in the top five at all eight races into the season. Mayer acknowledged that the team has struggled, but this result is a sure sign that they’re back in form.

“So proud of my team,” he added. “The amount of adversity we had to fight this entire year so far, to come to a mile-and-a-half that, I want to say I’m good at, but it took a lot.”

As an extra bonus, Mayer earned the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize. The top four eligible drivers from last week at Martinsville were competing for it, and Mayer’s win was automatically the best finish of the group.

Once Mayer had clawed his way up to Sieg, the driver of the No. 1 dove to the inside on the backstretch, which got him the lead but sent him hard into Turn 3. As he washed up, Sieg was able to wheel his No. 39 Mustang to the inside and set up a contact-heavy drag race to the line.

“It sucks,” Sieg admitted. “We had a really good car, just got tight and then tried to change my line to do a different things and just… fell behind. Then I saw him coming and I was doing all I could do, and then at the end I was trying to just run him into the wall trying to win the race.”

For Sieg, driving for his family’s RSS Racing team, it would’ve have been his first win in over 200 starts. Still, he acknowledged that a top-five finish was a great result for the organization and was a sign of their potential. He led 17 laps and showed his speed before getting reeled in.

“We were so close. Just sucks. I’ve been second before, too many times, but that’s a good thing. We’re running where we need to be in the top five. Just got to clean up a few things.”

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – APRIL 13: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Celsius Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13, 2024 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Mayer’s JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier finished third after sweeping the stages, another top five for the team and valuable Playoff points for Allgaier in the stages. He was also a Dash 4 Cash contender.

AJ Allmendinger had a recovery drive up to fourth by the end. Battling allergies, he missed his pit stall at the Stage 1 break, sending him from ninth in the first stage all the way back to 26th.

Cole Custer rounded out the top five for Stewart-Haas Racing.

“We had a solid day,” Custer described. “It was a hard-fought day for sure. We fought for every point out there and made the most of it. We just need that little bit more. We are executing at a really high level right now. Our pit crew is doing great, and our guys are doing great, not making mistakes.

“We are doing great just trying to maximize the days and keep ourselves in the points. We want to win. We want to try to go out there and win, so we just have to find that little bit more, but we are working on it.”

The other Dash for Cash drivers, Chandler Smith and Sheldon Creed, finished 15th and 19th respectively.

The last stage of the race was set up with a restart for 23 to go, with the caution coming out after Justin Allgaier made contact with Leland Honeyman, sending Honeyman into the wall. That restart was a scramble for position and Ryan Sieg grabbed the most.

When the caution flew again with 15 to go, Sieg got a great restart and drove away as the pack battled him.

The Xfinity Series returns at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, April 20th.


Owen Johnson