JR Motorsports Race Report: Fontana
Sunday, February 26, 2023
Race 2 of 33: Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway Track Specs: 2- mile course / 150 laps Race Winner: John Hunter Nemechek Mayer’s finish: 2nd Point’s position: 7th (-40)
After rain washed out practice, qualifying and delayed the start of this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race by an entire day, Sam Mayer drove the No.1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevrolet to a runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway. Mayer battled loose conditions from the start but with adjustments and speed he was able to corral a track-best finish at the 2-mile oval and his second career top-two finish.
With qualifying cancelled due to the inclement weather, Mayer was set to start in the 22nd position by way of NASCAR’s metric. In the green flag shuffle, the No.1 made contact on the right rear, but the body was good to continue even though the young driver started to battle loose conditions.
Mayer gained five spots within the first 10 laps as he continued to fight the loose condition, and stayed there until the competition caution dropped on lap 15. During this caution, the No. 1 Chevrolet came down pit road for a shock adjustment and settled back in the pack at 25th in line after the choose rule.
The second caution of the night came out just a few short laps after and crew chief Mardy Lindley called the Franklin, Wis. native down pit road for four tires and fuel. Mayer reported that he was “feeling really edgy off Turn 2” and ended Stage One in the 34th position.
Lindley made the call to stay out under the stage break, which allowed Mayer to cruise up to the third spot while competitors came down pit road. The young driver lined up behind teammate Justin Allgaier on the top at the green.
A caution on lap 44 gave the No.1 team a chance for radio chatter as Mayer reported to the team he was still feeling edgy, but could feel the car balancing out. The No.1 Camaro stayed out and fell into the 13th spot for the restart.
With two laps to go in Stage Two, Mayer battled his way up to the seventh position and bobbled with the No. 2 of Sheldon Creed and the No. 98 of Riley Herbst in the fight for stage points, ending Stage Two in seventh.
Mayer pulled the No.1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevrolet down pit road for four tires and fuel. The young driver took the high side and started the Final Stage in the 12th position.
Radio chatter was minimal to start the stage until the yellow flag dropped for the seventh caution of the night. Mayer was called down pit road for four tires only as Lindley reported “let’s be smart here, make good choices”.
The yellow flag fell yet again on lap 60 and the driver of the No. 1 was called to stay out. Spotter Kevin Hamlin and Mayer agreed that they had more options running the top under caution radio chatter.
Things started to get dicey up front as Mayer made a pit stop under green for four tires and fuel on lap 115. Another caution came out just a few laps later and the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet took his final set of tires and topped off some Sunoco fuel. Mayer battled off pit road in the seventh position and took the bottom on the choose to set him seventh on the restart.
After battling another caution and a radio malfunction, the young driver drove up to the fourth spot and worked with teammate Allgaier with 12 to go. Mayer cruised up to the second position where he was closing in on the No. 20 of John Hunter Nemechek on the final laps.
Mayer fell just short of the race win but gained his track-best finish of second at Auto Club Speedway.
Sam Mayer, driver No.1 Accelerate Talent Group Chevrolet Team
“This runner-up finish was a huge deal for us tonight heading into the west coast swing. I am so proud of my No.1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions team. The momentum that we have going into the next couple weeks and passing our unfortunate luck last week, this finish really set the tone for us and I am super excited to keep rolling and see what we can do. Monday is going to be a good day for the JRM guys and we will go onto next week holding our heads high.”