Race 21 of 33: New Holland 250 at Michigan International Speedway
Track Specs: 2-mile D-shaped oval / 125 laps
Race Winner: Ty Gibbs
Mayer’s finish: 33rd
Points position: 9th (-257)
Sam Mayer overcame starting deep in the field for Saturday’s New Holland 250 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines at Michigan International Speedway, advancing his No. 1 BUSDX Chevrolet into the top five in the final segment, but damage sustained early in the final stage derailed his run. The damage required a green-flag pit stop that put him a lap down, and the young driver finished 33rd, two laps down to the leaders. Despite the finish, Mayer remains solidly in the playoff picture with five races remaining in the regular season, sitting in ninth place, 131 points above the cut line.
In qualifying, Mayer slotted into 26th position for the start of the 125-lap event on the big 2-mile oval, but wasted little time moving toward the front. The 19-year-old gained seven positions on the initial lap, despite telling crew chief Taylor Moyer that his No. 1 Camaro was very loose.
Mayer settled in, cracking the top 15 at lap 17. As handling tends to tighten up on longer runs, Mayer kept moving up, getting to 13th at lap 23. Telling Moyer that his front tires were starting to fade and that he was concerned for his rear security, Mayer held position and finished 13th in the 30-lap Stage One.
Before coming down pit road for the first stop of the day, Mayer reported he had developed a significant vibration. Moyer responded with four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help his drive. The No. 1 BUSDX pit crew gained four positions on the stop, sending Mayer back out in ninth position.
Restarting from the ninth position, on the bottom lane, Mayer fell to 12th on the first lap of green-flag racing in Stage Two. He had earned one spot back on the next lap when the caution waved for an incident in Turn 2. Mayer reported that the balance on his BUSDX Chevrolet was much better.
On the restart, Mayer jumped four positions to seventh and settled in until another caution waved at lap 54. Deciding to pit with most of the rest of lead pack, Mayer came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help his rear security on entry and a tight condition in traffic. Several cars stayed out, and Mayer came back out in 22nd for the short run to the green-and-white checkered flag to end Stage Two, picking up five positions to finish 17th.
Staying out over the stage break, Mayer advanced up the order to restart from the sixth position, and immediately showed speed by picking up two spots to fourth on the initial lap. The top five broke away from the pack in the next several laps, and Mayer ran fifth for much of that time.
On lap 70, Mayer was negotiating traffic and ran up on a couple of cars battling for position. Contact on the left front of his BUSDX Camaro knocked in the fender and caused a plume of white smoke to billow from the wheel well. Two laps later, Mayer came down pit road for repairs to the bodywork, losing a lap in the process. He would return in 35th position.
Once back at speed, Mayer began the race to become the first car one lap down, putting himself in position to regain the lead lap. Running 34th, Mayer kept up the chase, but was unable to accomplish it before the leaders caught up at lap 91 and put him another lap in arrears.
The leaders came to pit road for their final stops around lap 100, and that allowed Mayer to make up one of his laps and rise to 23rd in the order. Soon after that, Moyer told his driver to begin saving fuel for the end.
At lap 115, with fuel reserves dwindling, Mayer came to pit road for a splash to cover the remaining distance. That put him 33rd in the order and he would finish there 10 laps later.
Sam Mayer, driver No. 1 BUSDX Chevrolet team
“This is not the finish this No. 1 BUSDX team was looking for here at Michigan today. Michigan is a track where you need to have good entry and good drive off the corners, and we struggled with that at times. Then, we had the contact and that didn’t help either. Big thanks to BUSDX for coming onboard today, and we will learn from this and move on to Watkins Glen in two weeks, hopefully with better results. ”