FORT WORTH, Texas – John Hunter Nemechek scored the win and Daniel Hemric tied a record in Saturday’s Xfinity Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Nemechek is the third non-playoff driver to win in the first four playoff races this season. Josh Berry (Las Vegas) and Brandon Brown (Talladega) were the other non-playoff drivers to win races in the postseason. With Nemechek’s win, no driver has yet secured a spot in the Nov. 6 championship race at Phoenix.
For the 10th time in his Xfinity Series career, Hemric finished second. He continues to seek his first series win. Only Dale Jarrett scored 10 Xfinity runner-up finishes before he won his first series race.
Hemric’s runner-up finish gave Joe Gibbs Racing a 1-2 finish.
Noah Gragson placed third. Justin Allgaier finished fourth. Austin Cindric completed the top five.
Nemechek is the fourth different driver to win this season in the No. 54 for JGR, joining Kyle Busch, Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell.
“I knew it could win, and I had to go out and execute and do the best job I could,” Nemechek said of the No. 54 car. “The car was amazing.”
Nemechek had to overcome a pit road penalty for his crew going over the pit wall too soon on Lap 143 of the 200-lap race. The penalty dropped him to 18th. He was back in the lead by Lap 181.
A key move was when crew chief Chris Gayle called for a two-tire pit stop under caution at Lap 173 and was the first car off pit road, allowing him to restart second behind Harrison Burton, who did not pit.
“Got beat strategy-wise,” Hemric said. “Those guys put two tires on. One row on a restart can be a difference. That’s what it was.”
Stage 1 winner: Austin Cindric
Stage 2 winner: John Hunter Nemechek
Who had a good race: John Hunter Nemechek, making just his fourth start of the season in the Xfinity Series, claimed the victory. … The only other non-playoff driver in the top 10 was Michael Annett, who finished ninth.
Who had a bad race: Brandon Brown crashed, finishing 33rd. He dropped a spot to 15th in the points. … Brandon Jones placed 10th, but he was last among the eight remaining playoff drivers. He also did not score any stage points. The result is that Jones is 32 points from the cutline.
Notable: Joe Gibbs Racing has won 10 Xfinity Series races this season. All have been with the No. 54 car.
Next: The Round of 8 continues Oct. 23 at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC)