It looked to be Sam Mayer’s day early on in the A-Game 200 Xfinity Series race at Dover Motor Speedway, as he won his second stage of the 2022 season.
That came to a screeching halt at the end of the opening stage, when the left rear tire fell off the No. 1 Chevrolet under caution. Mayer had to pit to replace the tire and restart at the rear of the field.
NASCAR won’t announce any penalties until next week, but Taylor Moyer, crew chief to the No. 1 car, will likely be suspended four races, per the rulebook.
“It’s going to be an experience because it‘s the first time anything like this has happened,” Mayer said after the race. “We‘re going to keep grinding and doing what we can do. It makes me want to cry because I want to keep the team together and stuff like this happening doesn‘t help us.”
Methodically, Mayer made his way through the field in the second stage, ending the 45-lap stint in 12th. But at the end of the stage, he was caught speeding on pit road, and again had to restart at the rear of the field for the final stage.
Mayer said it felt like he passed 200 cars on the day.
“I‘m getting really good at that,” he said. “We‘ve come from the back it feels like 12 times already this year and we‘re not even 12 races in. We‘re really good and have a lot of speed, we just have to put it all together. They knew we were here. ”
Over the final half of the race which saw just two cautions, Mayer, again, worked his way through the field and finished fifth.
While it’s his fourth top-five finish in the last five races, Mayer was frustrated after the race because he felt the No. 1 car was no worse than a “top three” car.
“Irritated, annoyed, just sad,” Mayer said of how he felt. “It sucks because, technically, we had a really good end of the day. I‘m going to be super positive about that.
“It‘s always good to hang your hat on a top five because that means you‘re being successful.”
In order to score his first victory, Mayer knows that the No. 1 team has to clean up all its small miscues, whether it be himself or on pit road.
And as the series is getting ready to head to more aerodynamic dependent race tracks over the next couple of races, he believes the team can capitalize on its recent strengths.
Mayer said, “We‘re going to keep digging and try to be a couple spots better.”