Sam Mayer sends Ty Gibbs spinning for Xfinity win at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 19: Sam Mayer, driver of the #1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Shriners Children's 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 19, 2023 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Ty Gibbs led 70 laps at Watkins Glen, but he didn’t make friends when it counted.

In a late restart with four laps to go, Gibbs retook the lead from third place in just one corner and pushed second-place Sam Mayer into the wall in an aggressive block. Mayer repaid him after a pileup a few rows back forced an Overtime restart by driving in deep and sending Gibbs spinning.

“That first one, I got used up,” Mayer said the restarts. “I thought I had a good one there,” he trailed off.

“We had to work our tails off for it. I mean, Marty on top of the box, everyone on pit road, we were in this one for sure. And to do it in front of all you northeasterners, it feels good,” Mayer said to cheers.

As for the incident with Ty Gibbs, Mayer said, although he drove it in hard in the first corner, wrecking him wasn’t intentional.

“I wheelhopped it, that’s unfortunate,” he explained. “I feel bad for doing that. Don’t want to take out a Gibbs car like that – or any car like that.”

“But yeah, just trying to get another win in the Xfinity Series, I got a lot of catching up to do. I was in there, I put my nose in there, and that’s part of it. Fenders are fenders.”

“Yeah, that’s an accident,” Mayer concluded. “But I think everyone can agree that it’s okay for an Xfinity Series regular to win this race.”

It’s just his second career victory after he earned his inaugural win at the Road America road course earlier this season.

Mayer didn’t come out of the first turn with the lead, and he had to chase down and pass Sheldon Creed to secure the victory, which he did in the final corner of the first of two Overtime laps.

Some Speedy-Dry, used to freshen the track after the incident that brought out the caution, made conditions treacherous with several drivers spinning. Creed missed the final corner, allowing Mayer to drive right under him, which he blamed on some lingering fluids still out on the track.

“Just oil, I guess,” Creed said. “I saw the 1 drive through the 19 and hand me the lead there and I thought that was my race to lose – and it was.”

“I got oil on entry there and thought I’d be okay going in… and I was just sideways and let him go by. I thought I’d be able to reel him more that last lap, but obviously Sam did a great job that last lap.”

For Mayer, who’s finished second four times in his career without managing to secure the win, it’s just “another way to lose one.”

“It’s tough, but I thought we were an eighth-to-tenth place car all day, we just couldn’t fire, and then by the time I felt like I could be on pace they were far away. To finish second and to gain points all day, that’s good for us, but it just stings when you’re that close.”

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – AUGUST 19: Ty Gibbs, driver of the #19 He Gets Us Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Xfinity Series Shriners Children’s 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 19, 2023 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

After starting on pole and sweeping the stages, Ty Gibbs ended up 17th. He was met with a chorus of boos after getting out of his car.

“You know, I think when you have to race out of desperation like that and you wheelhop and clean the leader out, I guess you can call it a racing move in that book,” Gibbs acknowledged. “But it just really sucks. We had a great time out there, definitely wish that caution didn’t come out there, it definitely sucks to get cleaned out there. But I’ve had a good time running these things this year.”

“I think it’s a part of life, and it’s a part of racing, and when stuff like that happens – desperate moves like that happen – it’s just part of it and you’ve just to keep going.”

Gibbs is not particularly interested in building bridges with Mayer. The two already have bad blood after an incident in Martinsville that led to a fistfight.

“I don’t really know how much of a conversation you can really have with him in that situation,” he said.

“We kind of grew up around racing each other. I think he has more starts than I do, and this is his second win, so congratulations to him on the second win, and definitely wish I could’ve gotten my thirteenth there,” Gibbs concluded in a dig at Mayer.

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – AUGUST 19: <> during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Shriners Children’s 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 19, 2023 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The incident that brought out Overtime came on the first lap following a restart with four laps to go. While Ty Gibbs drove away out front, the top-ten battled for position, with Justin Allgaier and others going around. Some drivers gained ground as the field stacked up behind them.

Others, like Parker Kligerman, lost out as the field was reorganized for the Overtime restart. But Kligerman wasn’t happy with how far back he had to go.

“I’ll have to talk to NASCAR, to just sort of sort through this one. We were in fifth, and maybe that was a little too far, but they sent us like four or five spots back,” he explained, “including the 8, who I’m pretty sure is the car that hit us in the wreck.”

“The unfortunate part is, is if you give us a row or two, we’re where the 2 and the 1 are,” he pointed out.

He was still able to drive up to third, which he said was just about being observant.

“I knew this was going to be a Speedy-Dry finish, I saw it, and I made sure to try and avoid those areas, and sure enough people were flying off left-and-right in that stuff,” Kligerman said.

“We were probably more of a tenth-place car,” he admitted, “but we had a great finish, we salvaged some great points. We kept ourselves in the fight.”

He’s now just three points behind twelfth-place Riley Herbst in the points standings with that Playoff position firmly within his grasp. But he said that doesn’t change his mindset.

“To me, it all feels the same. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing, we scored stage points in all stages today, so that’s a big deal for us. You know, we’re the king of eleventh place, and we were close to finishing eleventh in two of those stages, so I was going to spin someone out if I was about to finish eleventh,” he joked.

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – AUGUST 19: Kyle Weatherman, driver of the #4 Chevrolet, and Austin Hill, driver of the #21 Bennett Transportation Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Shriners Children’s 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 19, 2023 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Cup Series driver Ross Chastain finished fourth after making his way through the carnage.

Fifth-place Connor Mosack, a former Trans-Am driver, earned his best-ever finish in the Xfinity Series. He climbed through the field throughout the race and held on through the final laps.

“It was pretty chaotic,” Mosack described the finish. “I feel like we had a little bit better tires than the guys around us, but we had the damage so we would lose a lot of momentum up the esses.”

“I about got wrecked a couple times not having that momentum. It was really just trying to survive and hold on. I felt like we were going to have a good finish as long as we could get to the finish, so it worked out,” Mosack concluded.

The Playoff standings are in full focus with just three races remaining before the postseason begins and the field is set. With Mayer being a second-time winner, there will be at least one points position available. Josh Berry has the advantage of the four drivers currently in without wins, 108 points above the cutline, while Hemric and Creed are 28 and 22 points above respectively.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns for the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, August 25th at 7pm ET.

NASCAR Xfinity Shriners Children’s 200 Race Results

Owen Johnson