The NASCAR Xfinity Series Round of Eight began on October 16 with a race at Texas Motor Speedway. Several drivers had the goal of winning and reaching the championship, but John Hunter Nemechek took care of business and locked up the win while making a one-off start.
Nemechek started the day 10th overall and finished Stage 1 outside of the top-10, but he moved his way to the front of the field in Stage 2. The Truck Series regular-season champion led 18 laps during the segment and won the stage with a very fast Toyota. He then continued to spend time at the front of the pack, surpassing his career-best 64 laps led that he set at Kansas in the 2018 season.
A penalty during the final stage for a crew member over the wall too soon dropped Nemechek to 18th with 51 laps remaining in the race. However, he quickly navigated his way back through the field, cracking the top-10 once again with just over 40 to go. Nemechek then took two tires during a late caution, won the race off pit road, and lined up next to Harrison Burton.
The driver of the No. 20 led on the initial restart, but he did not hold on to the spot while contending with older tires. Nemechek moved in front of him and took the lead for the final time. The full-time Truck Series driver built up an insurmountable lead and won while teammate Daniel Hemric finished second and Noah Gragson took third.
With the win, the No. 54 is now eligible for the owners’ championship after its 10th win of the season. Nemechek will have the opportunity to lock up the trophy for Joe Gibbs Racing when he returns to the No. 54 Toyota at Phoenix Raceway.
A Caution Ruined Hemric’s Opportunity To Finally Win
The driver of the No. 18 JGR Toyota Supra, Hemric entered the race below the cutline and in need of some playoff points. He did not add to his total during Stage 1 due to a decision to pit before the green and white flag waved, but he impressed during the final two segments.
Hemric Stage 2 second behind Nemechek while driving a fast Toyota before taking the lead during the final segment. He proceeded to lead 55 laps and built up an advantage of more than one second, creating conversations about how he would finally win a national series win after more than 200 starts. However, a caution ruined his day.
Brandon Brown, the winner of the Talladega race, brought out the caution flag on Lap 174. He lost control and hit the inside SAFER barrier. This incident erased Hemric’s advantage and forced the drivers to line up for the final restart. Hemric ultimately finished second for the 10th time in his Xfinity Series career while Nemechek won.
Michael Annett Was Back To Form at Texas
The driver of the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, Annett missed eight races due to a stress fracture in his right femur and subsequent surgery to repair the damage. He ultimately made his return to action at the Charlotte Roval, placing 27th overall while knocking off the rust.
Annett showed that he was back to form during the race at Texas Motor Speedway on October 16. He showed up at the 1.5-mile track with a fast No. 1 Chevrolet and proceeded to run in the top 10 throughout the day.
The driver of the No. 1 finished Stage 1 fifth overall before heading to pit road for some fender repairs, tires, and fuel. Despite falling to 24th during Stage 2, Annett bounced back and continued to fight for stage points in the owners’ championship race. He ended the segment in seventh and set himself up for one final run to the checkered flag.
Annett continued to battle with some handling issues during the final segment, but he fought and raced his way into the top-five after making some moves past Jeb Burton and other peers. He ended the day ninth overall, locking up 38 points in the process and showing that he is back to his pre-injury form.