John Hunter Nemechek played playoff spoiler in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, rallying from a late-race pit penalty and denying the eight remaining playoff hopefuls an automatic spot in the championship round.
Nemechek’s No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota led a race-high 92 of the 200 laps in the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335. The Camping World Truck Series regular notched his first win in four Xfinity starts this season. It also marked the second victory of his Xfinity Series career.
Teammate Daniel Hemric finished second in JGR’s No. 18 Toyota, leading 55 laps and crossing under the checkered flag 1.316 seconds behind the race winner. Noah Gragson placed third, with Justin Allgaier and defending series champ Austin Cindric closing out the top five in that order. Pole-starter AJ Allmendinger wound up sixth.
Nemechek was docked for a pit crew member over the wall too soon during a Lap 143 pit stop. That penalty knocked Nemechek back to 17th in the running order, and he rallied back into the contention, vaulting even higher after a speedy two-tire stop on Lap 174 during a caution period for Brandon Brown’s Turn 2 crash.
Playoff contenders Allmendinger and Gragson each faced early adversity, making contact with each other on Lap 33, then each enduring pit-road trouble during the Stage 2 break. Both teams made extra pit stops before the final stage began.
The Xfinity Series’ next race is the Kansas Lottery 300, scheduled next Saturday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Kansas Speedway.
This story will be updated.