Race 23 of 33: Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile tri-oval / 100 laps
Weather: Mostly Cloudy; 87 degrees
Race Winner: Justin Haley Mayer’s Finish: 12th
Making his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start at a superspeedway, Sam Mayer, driver of the No. 8 PeopleReady TrueBlue Chevrolet, drove from his 22nd-place starting position to inside of the top 10 late in Saturday afternoon’s rain-postponed Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Damage early on didn’t stop Mayer’s ascent up the leaderboard as he powered his way to the race lead for the first time in his short NXS career. Settling in and working with his JR Motorsports teammates while learning the draft, Mayer ran inside of the top 15 for most of the day before crossing the line on lap 100 in the 12th position.
Stage One Finish: 35th
Mayer started the 250-mile race from the 22nd position as the starting order was set by NASCAR’s mathematical formula earlier in the week. Once underway, the driver of the No. 8 PeopleReady TrueBlue Chevrolet moved forward, drafting up to 15th and remaining there until the scheduled competition caution waved on lap 15. During the yellow, crew chief Taylor Moyer made the strategy call to bring the No. 8 to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. While under the competition caution the skies opened up and rain began to fall, ultimately forcing NASCAR to postpone the remainder of Friday night’s race to Saturday afternoon.
Once back underway, Mayer settled in behind JRM teammates Noah Gragson and Michael Annett until a wreck between the front-runners caused Mayer to take evasive action. While working to avoid the incident, Mayer ended up receiving slight damage from spinning cars, forcing the rookie driver to pit twice during the yellow for fresh tires and repairs. The yellow ultimately ended Stage One on lap 30 with Mayer scored in the 35th position.
Stage Two Finish: 10th
During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Taylor Moyer called the 18-year-old to pit road in order to top off with fuel to work with their strategy. After pitting when the pits were closed initially before the end of Stage One, Mayer brought the No. 8 PeopleReady TrueBlue Chevrolet to pit road to top off with fuel one last time. Undeterred by the loss of track position, Mayer sliced and diced his way through slower traffic in order to keep in the draft of the lead pack. A lap-35 yellow slowed the field as Mayer ran in the 13th position. Remaining on track during the yellow, Mayer restarted from 13th and drove inside of the top five by lap 45 and up to fourth on lap 46. Another yellow waved on lap 48 as Mayer was working with teammates Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson. Mayer brought the No. 8 to pit road during the caution for fuel only in an attempt to make it to the end of the race. Restarting from 10th, Mayer wasted no time moving to the front as he took the race lead and led his first career lap in the NXS. Losing drafting help nearing the stage end, Mayer methodically worked the side draft to remain inside the top 10 and cross the finish line on lap 60 in the 10th position to earn one stage point.
Mayer brought the PeopleReady TrueBlue Camaro to pit road during the stage-ending caution for four fresh tires and fuel. Restarting 16th, Mayer began working his way back to the front of the field as he worked with Allgaier on the top side of the 2.5-mile tri oval. A lap-72 yellow slowed the field as Mayer was scored in the seventh position just behind teammate Allgaier. Losing drafting help to the top side of the track following the restart, Mayer rejoined the draft in the 11th position before a lap-82 yellow slowed the field once more. Taking the green with only 14 laps remaining in the 100-lap event, Mayer lost drafting help once again but was able to join the field in the 14th position. Remaining green for the closing laps, Mayer worked his way inside of the top 10 before ultimately crossing the line for the final time in the 12th position on lap 100.
Sam Mayer, driver No. 8 PeopleReady TrueBlue Chevrolet
“We had a great PeopleReady TrueBlue Camaro today even with the little bit of damage we suffered in Stage One. I can’t thank Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and this entire No. 8 team enough for giving me a fast car today. Between Taylor and Tab (Boyd, spotter), they helped me learn the entire time on how the draft works and where to make my runs in order to gain track position. Without them we couldn’t have ran this good. I can’t wait to get to Darlington next week with a little bit of momentum on our side.”