Mayer Denied 'Dega Victory by Three Feet
JR Motorsports Race Report
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022
Race 28 of 33: Sparks 300 at Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile tri-oval /113 laps
Race Winner: AJ Allmendinger
Mayer’s finish: 2nd
Points position: 7th (+12)
Sam Mayer came within three feet of victory in a dramatic drag race to the finish line in the end of Saturday’s Sparks 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, but came up just short and earned the runner-up spot. Mayer powered to the lead with only four laps remaining and with the help of spotter Tyler Green managed to parry all challenges to the top spot. On the white-flag lap, the gap between Mayer and the second-place runner of AJ Allmendinger grew too great, giving Allmendinger a run as the pair ran side-by-side to the checkered flag. The second-place effort marks Mayer’s career-best Xfinity Series finish and makes him the highest finisher for team JRM. It also was a superb big-picture points day for the No. 1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions team as the result gives Mayer a twelve-point buffer over the cutoff position with one race remaining in the Round of 12.
Beginning the day from the 13th position, Mayer worked to ninth prior to the first caution on lap four, telling the team he was “wrecking loose”. They took the opportunity to pit for fuel and adjustments under the yellow flag and restarted in 24th.
The field remained relatively calm once back to green-flag racing and settled into single file to click off the remaining laps of the opening stage, but not before Mayer worked his way to 10th. Mayer rode out Stage One in the position and gained a stage point with the result.
With an Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevy that was “super edgy”, Mayer used the stage-ending caution to pit for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustment. He lined up in eighth for the onset of Stage Two.
Mayer sliced to third in the opening laps of Stage Two before the field shifted to single-file racing around the top. He maintained a position among the top six as the laps ticked away and took the conclusion of Stage Two in sixth.
Telling the No. 1 team that the car “feels pretty good”, Mayer pitted for right-side tires and fuel under the caution flag. Unfortunately, Mayer was penalized for speeding on pit road, relegating him to 34th for the opening of the final stage.
After restarting in 34th, Mayer climbed back to 15th only several laps later while the field again settled in follow-the-leader style racing.
Mayer made a green-flag fuel-only pit stop with the bulk of the leaders on lap 68, and emerged back on the track among them. By the time all the pit stops cycled through, Mayer was scored in fifth.
Occupying prime placement in the running order, Mayer lay in wait as the laps dwindled. When several competitors finally made a move to overtake the leaders, Mayer surged ahead with them. He powered his way forward, leading twice for three laps over the final four circuits.
On the white-flag lap, Mayer held the lead coming off Turn 4, but had gotten too far out in front of the pack which gave the No. 16 a chance to make a run on the No. 1 coming to the line.
Mayer’s runner-up finish is the No. 1 team’s 10th top-five and 16th top-10 finish of the season.
Sam Mayer, driver No. 1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevrolet team
“This was my first time getting to the end of a speedway race. It was a huge learning experience. Once we got out front, I wasn’t really sure how the runs would come and how to protect my position. I made a move to protect the lead on the backstretch but I wasn’t able to do it a second time on the frontstretch coming to the stripe. That was the difference maker. It’s disappointing because this Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions team deserves to be in Victory Lane today. We did everything right, just three feet shy.”