John Hunter Nemechek closes out 2-mile Auto Club with PAG 300 win

Due to a rainout on Saturday, the NASCAR Xfinity Series became the final division to hold a race on Auto Club Speedway in its two-mile configuration. A twelve-lap dash to the finish meant John Hunter Nemechek would be the last to stand in a larger Victory Lane before future celebrations took place in smaller confines of a half-mile short track.

Nemechek held off an onslaught of Chevrolets led by JR MotorsportsSam Mayer and Justin Allgaier to score his third career win in the Xfinity Series and second for Joe Gibbs Racing.

After nearly winning the opener at Daytona, Nemechek started on the front row alongside victor Austin Hill. The lead would change hands twenty-three times, the third most for a non-superspeedway race in Xfinity Series history, among nine drivers.

“I’ve peaked too early in years past, so hopefully we can keep the ball rolling all year long,” said Nemechek. “I’m confident in this whole team, confident in all of our guys—everyone at JGR, the motor shop, Toyota, TRD—just can’t thank everyone enough. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and the plan of stepping back to move back up the ranks is paying off so far.

“To write my name in history as the final winner at this two-mile oval, what a great place. You can run all of the lanes. You slip and slide around. The seams are treacherous, but after Kyle (Busch) won, there’s been a lot of doubt, I feel like, from fans about Ben (Beshore) coming back to be my crew chief. After Kyle won the race, I texted Ben. He came up to the box and I told him that it was our turn to go get one, and now here we are.”

Cole Custer had dominated the race by winning the first two stages, but was knocked out on lap 92 when he slid up into the turn two wall and hit from behind by Austin Dillon. While Custer was able to get his car repaired and continue, he finished a distant twenty-seventh.

Sheldon Creed, nicknamed The Showstopper for his driving style in off-road racing, lived up to the moniker amid a tumultuous day. On lap 45, he attempted to block Josh Berry on the backstretch but instead got turned and sent hurdling towards the inside wall, yet managed to drift the car and only lightly tap the barrier with his rear. Although the save dropped him back, he fought his way through the order and was able to lead fifteen laps, mostly under caution, before electing to stay out for the final restarts. On much older tyres than the rest, Creed quickly slipped again and would finish twenty-third.

Eight cautions for race-related incidents were flown, with Gray Gaulding‘s lap 26 crash being the first.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 2 20 John Hunter Nemechek Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 150 Running
2 22 1 Sam Mayer JR Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
3 3 7 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
4 5 16 Chandler Smith Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
5 19 8 Josh Berry JR Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
6 1 21 Austin Hill Richard Childress Raicng Chevrolet 150 Running
7 6 98 Riley Herbst Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 150 Running
8 15 10 Austin Dillon* Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
9 25 25 Brett Moffitt AM Racing Ford 150 Running
10 23 48 Parker Kligerman Big Machine Racing Team Chevrolet 150 Running
11 14 19 Joe Graf Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 150 Running
12 35 11 Daniel Hemric Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
13 29 26 Kaz Grala Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 150 Running
14 16 39 Ryan Sieg RSS Racing Ford 150 Running
15 18 38 Kyle Sieg RSS Racing Ford 150 Running
16 9 92 Josh Williams DGM Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
17 17 78 Anthony Alfredo B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
18 11 51 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
19 13 18 Sammy Smith Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 150 Running
20 4 31 Parker Retzlaff Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
21 20 45 Rajah Caruth* Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
22 7 27 Jeb Burton Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
23 31 2 Sheldon Creed Richard Childress Raicng Chevrolet 150 Running
24 38 91 Ross Chastain* DGM Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
25 30 6 Brennan Poole JD Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
26 26 44 Jeffrey Earnhardt Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
27 8 00 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 149 Running
28 28 28 Alex Labbé DGM Racing Chevrolet 149 Running
29 34 35 Joey Gase Emerling-Gase Motorsports Toyota 149 Running
30 36 4 Bayley Currey JD Motorsports Chevrolet 149 Running
31 33 07 Blaine Perkins SS-Green Light Racing Ford 149 Running
32 37 66 Timmy Hill* MBM Motorsports Ford 149 Running
33 10 9 Brandon Jones JR Motorsports Chevrolet 149 Running
34 32 43 Ryan Ellis Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 149 Running
35 21 02 David Starr Our Motorsprots Chevrolet 148 Running
36 24 24 Tyler Reddick* Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 148 Running
37 27 53 C.J. McLaughlin Emerling-Gase Motorsports Chevrolet 147 Running
38 12 08 Gray Gaulding SS-Green Light Racing Ford 26 Accident
DNQ 99 Garrett Smithley B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet
DNQ 74 Ryan Vargas CHK Racing Chevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points