John Hunter Nemechek plays playoff spoiler, wins Andy’s 335
John Hunter Nemechek might not be moving up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2022, but that is not stopping the Camping World Truck Series points leader from winning in the second tier. Nemechek led the final twenty laps to win Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at Texas Motor Speedway, throwing many playoff contenders’ hopes of advancing to the final round into flux.
Championship rivals A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Cindric started on the front row, and the former led the first thirteen laps before being passed by the latter. Cindric would lead to the stage win ahead of Noah Gragson, Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Jeremy Clements, Brett Moffitt, and Brandon Brown. Three yellow flags were waved for a competition caution (lap 20), Landon Cassill suffering damage in contact with Sam Mayer (25), and J.J. Yeley‘s car stopping due to a broken crankshaft (39). Cassill would rejoin and re-exit the race multiple times as mechanical issues from the damage interfered with his day.
Daniel Hemric assumed the lead to start Stage #2. Ryan Sieg brought out the lone caution of the segment when he spun on lap 63. Hemric and Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Nemechek trade the lead but the latter would secure the lead and stage victory. Hemric, Mayer, Jeb Burton, Haley, Riley Herbst, Annett, Allgaier, Gragson, and Allmendinger rounded out the top ten.
Nemechek continued to lead to start the final stage. On lap 100, Dylan Lupton and Tanner Berryhill slammed into the turn two wall and collected Jade Buford. C.J. McLaughlin spun on lap 141 for another caution, and Hemric took the top spot for the restart. Harrison Burton, also a JGR driver, became the new leader following Brown’s wreck on lap 172, but was passed by Nemechek on lap 181.
Despite being penalised after the McLaughlin caution for having a crewman over the pit wall too soon, Nemechek was able to complete his drive from the back and hold off Hemric to win his second career Xfinity race and first since 2018 at Kansas.
He is the first driver to win an Xfinity race despite declaring for Truck points since Ross Chastain in 2019, though Chastain had switched from Xfinity to Truck standings midseason. If the qualifier is narrowed to those who were running an entire Truck season, the last driver to do so and win in the Xfinity Series was Ryan Blaney in 2014, and he also achieved the feat the previous year. Nemechek also joins Allmendinger as the only drivers in 2021 to win a national series race in a higher tier than the one that they had declared points for, with Allmendinger winning the Indianapolis Cup race as an Xfinity regular.
Although he is not eligible for Xfinity points, Nemechek’s win clinches a spot in the final round of the owner’s championship for the #54 JGR car.
“(Spotter) Stevie Reeves and (crew chief) Chris Gayle kept me calm. I think this year, I’ve grown a lot as a driver and got put in position in the Truck Series as well,” said Nemechek. “I can’t say enough about this whole team. The #54 has been fast every single week. My goal coming in was to win. I had to win to prove to myself that I can do this.
“It’s just like taking that step back to the Truck Series. I wanted to get back to Victory Lane. […] It’s an amazing accomplishment to get this done, beating a teammate as well. We’re racing for an owners championship. I’m back in the #54 in Phoenix, so double championships for us when we go.”
|1||10||54||John Hunter Nemechek*||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|2||3||18||Daniel Hemric||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|3||5||9||Noah Gragson||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|4||6||7||Justin Allgaier||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|5||2||22||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||200||Running|
|6||1||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|7||4||11||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|8||8||20||Harrison Burton||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|9||9||1||Michael Annett||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|10||7||19||Brandon Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|11||13||10||Jeb Burton||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|12||20||98||Riley Herbst||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||200||Running|
|13||11||8||Sam Mayer||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|14||22||39||Ryan Sieg||RSS Racing||Ford||200||Running|
|15||32||31||Kaz Grala*||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|16||26||02||Brett Moffitt||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|17||39||15||Bayley Currey*||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|18||24||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Martins Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|19||15||92||Josh Williams||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|20||21||61||Austin Hill*||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||199||Running|
|21||12||2||Myatt Snider||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|22||30||6||Ryan Vargas||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|23||23||0||Jeffrey Earnhardt||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|24||16||36||Alex Labbé||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|25||25||47||Kyle Weatherman||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|26||38||07||Joe Graf Jr.||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||198||Running|
|27||35||5||Mason Massey||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Toyota||196||Running|
|28||28||90||Spencer Boyd*||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||196||Running|
|29||14||51||Jeremy Clements||Jeremy Clements Racing||Chevrolet||196||Running|
|30||37||52||Joey Gase||Jimmy Means Racing||Chevrolet||195||Running|
|31||34||78||Jesse Little||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||195||Running|
|32||31||99||Matt Mills||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||193||Running|
|33||18||68||Brandon Brown||Brandonbilt Motorsports||Chevrolet||171||Accident|
|34||36||66||David Starr||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||152||Engine|
|35||40||74||C.J. McLaughlin||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||145||Suspension|
|36||19||4||Landon Cassill||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||108||Electrical|
|37||27||23||Tanner Berryhill||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||100||Accident|
|38||29||26||Dylan Lupton||Sam Hunt Racing||Toyota||100||Accident|
|39||17||48||Jade Buford||Big Machine Racing||Chevrolet||81||Accident|
|40||33||17||J.J. Yeley||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||37||Engine|
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points