The NASCAR Xfinity Series returned to Portland International Raceway on June 3, this time under sunny skies. The result was a significant amount of chaos and excitement for fans watching in person and at home.
There were only five cautions — three for cause — at PIR on June 3, but this was due to the race taking place at a road course. Numerous cars went sliding through the grass or the Turn 1 chicane, but they were able to keep moving forward.
This trend began with Chandler Smith, who went spinning on the opening lap after contact from Connor Mosack. The driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet missed Turn 1, so he served a pass-through penalty before getting spun later in the race.
Smith was also involved in another prominent incident. Something happened that led to Smith attempting to spin Jeb Burton on the frontstretch. He then continued making contact with the No. 27 Chevrolet Camaro before finally sending it off of the track.
“He tried wrecking me in the final corner, he tried wrecking me in turn 1, then he finally wrecked me in Turn 4,” Burton said over the radio after getting spun. “He’s going to get a broke f****** nose after this race. Daddy’s not gonna be able to help him in a bit.”
Burton confronted Smith on pit road after the race. The FOX Sports cameras did not show the altercation, but they showed a Kaulig Racing crew member holding Burton in a headlock. There was then footage of a heated discussion between Kaulig President Chris Rice and his former driver.
John Hunter Nemechek Had Multiple Run-Ins
Smith was far from the only driver that had run-ins on the road course. John Hunter Nemechek was involved in two separate incidents — one with Sheldon Creed and one with teammate Sammy Smith.
The first incident occurred at the end of Stage 2. Nemechek raced behind Creed while battling for the bonus points, but he sent the No. 2 Chevrolet off of the track entering the final turn. He was in a position to take the stage win, but Cole Custer dove to the inside and headed down the final straight side-by-side with Nemechek.
The driver of the No. 00 Ford, who went on to win the race after a late incident that collected Justin Allgaier and Creed, won the drag race back to the start-finish line. He narrowly beat Nemechek to capture the important playoff point.
Creed was not happy after getting sent off of the track by Nemechek. He showed his displeasure early in the final stage by working his way to the rear bumper of the No. 20 Toyota and sending it spinning in Turn 11.
To their credit, the two drivers took part in a conversation after the race. Nemechek apologized for the first incident and then the two drivers shared a cordial fist bump.
The other incident featuring Nemechek took place after Creed dumped him. Smith lost control entering Turn 1, and he collided with the No. 20 Toyota. Nemechek went for a spin, but he wasted no time before turning back around. He chased down his teammate and punted him off of the track.
The Chaos Included Multiple Mechanical Issues & Fires
Drivers knocking each other off of the track were not the only examples of the chaos that unfolded on the Oregon road course. There were also multiple mechanical issues that disrupted the race.
The first featured Daniel Hemric. The Kaulig Racing No. 11 Chevrolet caught on fire as the field prepared to take the green flag, which led to Hemric pulling off to the side.
Surprisingly, Hemric’s day was not over. Kaulig Racing put in extensive work getting the No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro back on track. The 2021 Xfinity Series champion was able to return and complete the race, albeit 30 laps down.
The other fire involved the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang. The in-car camera showed fluid on Riley Herbst’s windshield during the final stage. He continued racing around the road course until his engine blew up with eight laps remaining in the race.
Herbst had to pull to the side of the track and climb from the ruined No. 98 Ford as the grass behind the stock car caught on fire. His day came to an end with a 32nd-place finish.
The June 3 race marked the second time in two seasons that he has been unable to complete all of the laps at Portland International Raceway. He was involved in a seven-car crash during the race in 2022, which relegated him to a 35th-place finish.