Race 4 of 33: United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway Track Specs: 1-mile oval / 200 laps Race Winner: Noah Gragson Mayer’s finish: 22nd Points position: 9th (-106)
Sam Mayer showed a lot of speed on Saturday at Phoenix Raceway, driving his No. 1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevrolet to a 22nd-place finish in the United Rentals 200 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars on the 1-mile desert oval. The 18-year-old Wisconsin native overcame several obstacles on his way to the checkered flag, having to drop to the rear of the field for the start after qualifying seventh and being issued pit-road speeding penalties on four occasions. The young second-generation driver drove into the top 10 on all but one of those occasions—the final green-flag pit stop with less than 35 laps remaining.
After a strong run to seventh in qualifying, Mayer was forced to drop to the rear of the field after having to make adjustments to his Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevrolet after the field had been set. Taking the green flag from 32nd position, Mayer needed just 13 laps to advance into the top 20. Seven laps later, the first caution flag of the day waved and Mayer had climbed to 14th.
Under caution, Mayer told crew chief Taylor Moyer that his Chevrolet was pretty free overall, good on entry, neutral in the center of the long corners and loose off them. He also reported a shifting issue between second and third gears.
Restarting from 15th position on lap 33, Mayer once again moved forward, passing Ryan Sieg at lap 41 for 11th. Three laps later, running the high line, Mayer made his way into the top 10 and finished the 45-lap Stage One there, adding a stage point to his total for the day. On the ensuing pit stop, Mayer took four tires, fuel and adjustments and left pit road in fourth position, but the young driver was called for speeding and was forced back to the rear for the restart.
Starting Stage Two from 35th position, Mayer again put his head down and climbed the running order. After a quick caution at lap 55, Mayer had advanced six positions to 29th. By lap 64, the young driver had cracked the top 20 and needed just seven more laps to reach the top 15.
As the laps wound down to the end of the stage, Mayer kept his pace and drove into the top 10 with three laps remaining. He would finish there to earn another stage point, telling Moyer that he was getting tight at the end and especially snug in the center of the corners. Despite his rally, the same situation as Stage One played out on the ensuing pit stop, and Mayer was once again called for speeding and sent to the rear of the field.
Restarting from 33rd position at lap 99, Mayer once again rallied and advanced back to the top 20 in just nine laps. Another nine laps clicked away and Mayer was in the top 15. By lap 129, the young driver had reached 12th position, telling Moyer that he was managing a tight condition in his handling.
Mayer was still 12th when green-flag pit stops began at lap 165. Mayer came down pit road again on that lap for his final stop, taking four tires and fuel to the end, and once again was called for speeding, earning a pass-through penalty that would cost him a lap to the leaders. Unfortunately, he was called for speeding again while serving it and lost another lap.
Over the remaining distance, Mayer gained three positions from 25th to 22nd and finished there at the checkered flag. Mayer remained ninth in series points following the event.
Sam Mayer, driver No. 1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevrolet team “We had a really strong Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevy at Phoenix today. I was proud of how we were able to drive from the rear of the field back into the top 10 on multiple occasions. It shows the effort and resilience of our team. In the end, we just couldn’t rebound from those speeding penalties. It’s disappointing and we’ll have to look at things when we get back to the shop. I don’t know if my tach lights were off or it was just an error, but it’s really hard to come back from that.”