Race 29 of 33: Drive For The Cure 250 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course
Track Specs: 2.28-mile Road Course / 67 laps
Weather: Cloudy; 70 degrees
Race Winner: AJ Allmendinger Mayer’s Finish: 10th
Making his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start at the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sam Mayer, driver of the No. 8 QPS Employment Group Chevrolet, drove from his 15th-place starting position to inside of the top three in the latter stages of Saturday afternoon’s Drive For The Cure 250. While battling within the top three during the green-white-checkered finish, Mayer was forced to come to a complete stop after driving through the backstretch chicane ultimately pushing the 18-year-old back to the 10th position. With the result, Mayer has now earned four career top-10 finishes in the NXS.
Stage One Finish: 35th
Mayer lined up for his first NXS start at the 2.28-mile road course in the 15th position after the field was set through NASCAR’s mathematical formula earlier in the week. From the drop of the green flag Mayer was determined to keep his nose clean as he solidly ran in the 14th position until a lap-2 caution bunched the field back together. Once back underway Mayer went back into conservation mode as he ran in the 15th position before the caution was displayed once again on lap 10. Remaining on track, Mayer restarted from the 15th position and remained there until crew chief Taylor Moyer made the strategy call to bring the No. 8 QPS Employment Group Chevrolet to pit road under green flag conditions for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to alleviate a loose-handling Camaro. Mayer rejoined the race in the 36th position and was able to pass teammate Michael Annett before a lap 19 yellow ended Stage One which was scheduled to end on lap 20.
Stage Two Finish: 10th
During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Taylor Moyer made the call to keep the driver of the No. 8 QPS Employment Group Chevrolet on track as they had just pit two laps prior. Restarting from the second position as Stage Two went green, Mayer relentlessly battled to keep track position until a lap-28 caution brought him back within reach of leader Austin Cindric. Restarting from the outside, Mayer took off slowly and slipped to fifth as he spun the tires in the restart zone. Undeterred by the loss of track position, Mayer set his sights back forward but the field was once again slowed for a lap-35 yellow. Pitting for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, Mayer restarted form the 19th position and needed only one lap to rejoin the top 10, ultimately crossing under the green-and-white checkered to end Stage Two on lap 40 in the 10th position to earn one stage point on the day.
Prior to the start of the third and final stage, Moyer made the strategy call to keep the QPS Employment Group Chevrolet on track to stay with their original strategy. Restarting from the second position, Mayer slipped to third behind AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric. Using a never-give-up attitude, Mayer gained ground on the second-running Cindric and continued to hunt the cars ahead. Making ground on second-place, Mayer was able to slip by Cindric but could not clear the No. 22 and Mayer fell back behind.
A lap-63 yellow bunched the field back together and gave Mayer one last chance to advance the No. 8 into the Round of 8 in the owner’s championship. Restarting behind race-leader AJ Allmendinger, Mayer bumped the No. 16 as the pair entered Turn 1 but the move was not to be, leaving the Franklin, Wis. native to patiently bide his time through the infield portion of the 2.28-mile Roval. Overcooking the entry of the chicane, Mayer lost ground on the lead and allowed the pack behind him to catch the No. 8. As they crossed under the white flag, the No. 8 began to sputter as it was low on fuel which allowed Ty Gibbs to make a move on Mayer. The two young guns battled through the infield with Mayer coming out ahead.
The car began to sputter again as they entered the oval section and this allowed Cindric to move inside of the No. 8. Knowing he had to try something, Mayer drove in hard to the backstretch chicane but couldn’t make the turn and was forced to come to a complete stop. This pushed the No. 8 back into the 11th position but Mayer moved passed a spinning car just before the start-finish line to earn his fourth career top-10 finish in the NXS.
Sam Mayer, driver No. 8 QPS Employment Group Chevrolet
“Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and this No. 8 team gave me such a fast QPS Employment Group Chevrolet today and it felt good to run upfront for the majority of the race. I knew it was either win or go home for our chances in the owner’s championship so I had to try something on the last lap in order to have a chance but it just didn’t work out. I gave it my all and I know this team did as well so I can’t thank them enough. Now we have our eyes set on finishing as high as possible and hopefully getting a win before the end of the season.”