Race 32 of 33: Dead On Tools 250 at Martinsville Speedway
Track Specs: .526-mile oval / 250 laps
Weather: Partly Cloudy; 52 degrees
Race Winner: Noah Gragson Mayer’s Finish: 4th
Making his second NASCAR Xfinity Series start on a half-mile track, Sam Mayer, driver of the No. 8 John 5 Sinner Chevrolet, drove from his 11th-place starting position to inside of the top five of Saturday evening’s Dead On Tools 250 NXS event at Martinsville Speedway, rallying back from being three laps down due to damage sustained in Stage One to earn a resilient fourth-place finish. The result marks the best finish for Mayer in the NXS and gives the young JR Motorsports driver his first career top-five finish.
Stage One Finish: 38th
Mayer lined up for the second half-mile race of his NXS career in the 11th position after the field was set through NASCAR’s mathematical formula. From the drop of the green flag Mayer moved forward as the John 5 Sinner Chevrolet was handling to the 18-year-olds liking. The first yellow flag flew on lap-15 as Mayer drove in the 10th position and lined up for the ensuing restart from the top of row four. Racing his way into the sixth position following the restart, Mayer had his sights set forward as he drove inside of the top five before the competition caution waved on lap 30. Lining up from the outside of row two, Mayer dropped to sixth before contact with another car caused severe damage to the right front quarter of the John 5 Sinner Chevrolet. Pitting to fix damage, the No. 8 team lost three laps before Mayer entered back on the track to end Stage One in 38th.
Stage Two Finish: 37th
During the stage-ending caution, the No. 8 received the free pass to only be two laps down from the leaders. After receiving the lucky dog, Mayer brought the No. 8 John 5 Chevrolet to pit road to fix the remaining damage and to change left side tires in the process. Riding around in hopes of a caution to get another lap back from the leaders, Mayer remained scored in the 37th position through the conclusion of Stage Two on lap 120.
Prior to the start of the third and final stage, Moyer made the call to keep the John 5 Sinner Chevrolet on track in order to receive the wave around to gain one additional lap back on the leaders and move him to only one lap down. Restarting from the rear, Mayer drove into the free pass position on lap 140 and was biding his time until the next caution waved on lap 150. The No. 8 was not the beneficiary as the car that was the cause of the caution lost a lap in the process, removing any driver from the contention. Pitting for four tires and fuel, Mayer restarted from the 30th position and raced his way back into the free pass position, ultimately earning that award on lap 178 as the yellow flag was displayed.
Pitting for four tires and fuel once back on the lead lap, Mayer restarted from the rear of the field due to earning the free pass. The field was again bunched back together as the yellow flag waved on lap 185 as Mayer ran in the 24th position. Utilizing the high side after the ensuing restart, Mayer narrowly avoided a multi-car wreck and was scored in the 19th position as the yellow was once again displayed on lap 186. Opting to utilize the outside line, Mayer again narrowly avoided a wreck as he entered Turn 3 at the half-mile paperclip and was scored in the 13th position.
Choosing the bottom of row eight for the ensuring restart, Mayer was determined to make his way back to the front as he raced his way up to eighth before the field was slowed on lap 217. Restarting from eighth, Mayer raced his way inside of the top five before the yellow flag waved on lap 243. Choosing the high line once again, Mayer raced his way into fourth as the final caution waved on lap-250, forcing NASCAR’s version of overtime.
Restarting from the top of row two, Mayer settled in to the fourth position and remained there until the checkered flag to earn his first career top-five finish in the NXS.
Sam Mayer, driver No. 8 John 5 Sinner Chevrolet
“I think this is the best car I have driven all year. I can’t thank Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and this entire No. 8 John 5 Sinner team for giving me this fast of a Camaro and for working as hard as possible to get the car fixed after we were brake checked early in the race. Had we not had to fight and claw our way back from three laps down, I think we would have had an even better shot to put this car in Victory Lane. We built a good notebook for next year and I can’t wait to come back to Martinsville.”