Sam Mayer finished fifth overall in the Pit Boss 250 on March 26, securing a spot in the Dash 4 Cash. This performance moved him to ninth in the playoff standings and simultaneously showcased the massive amount of progress being made.
Mayer, who only started 18 races during his rookie season with JR Motorsports in 2021, finished fifth overall at Circuit of the Americas while winning the first stage of his career. He registered his second career top-five finish in the Xfinity Series, joining a fourth-place run at Martinsville Speedway during his rookie year. Mayer locked a season-high 42 points and added three more laps led to his season total.
Mayer’s first full-time season is only six races deep, but he is well on his way to a career year. He only needs to lead another 29 laps to match his total from the 2021 season, and he only needs another four top-10 finishes to match his previous best of six.
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More importantly, while Mayer has spun and sustained damage to his stock car, he hasn’t ended a race early due to a crash. He posted six DNFs during his 18-race rookie season, but he has completed every race thus far while keeping himself in playoff contention.
Mayer Succeeded Despite Having No Previous Xfinity Series Experience at COTA
The driver of the No. 1 entered the Circuit of the Americas with one previous NASCAR start at the track — a sixth-place finish during the inaugural Camping World Truck Series race in 2021. However, he had only four previous road course starts in the Xfinity Series, none of which took place at COTA.
Mayer ran in the top 10 all day at Circuit of the Americas while avoiding spins and other incidents. He had an opportunity to secure stage points in all three stages, but he utilized pit strategy at the end of Stage 1 to set himself up for runs later in the race. However, Mayer’s strategy paid dividends at the end of Stage 2 when he remained on the track while other drivers headed to pit road, setting him up for his first career stage win.
Mayer started the final stage 29th overall after heading to pit road for tires and fuel, but he began maneuvering his way through the field. He avoided some spinning drivers during multiple points of the final run to the checkered flag, which included a melee on the cramped Turn 1 that knocked Ross Chastain out of contention for the win and affected multiple other drivers.
“Man, those last few laps there was some really hard racing going on,” Mayer said in a release from JR Motorsports. “It took a few seconds just to catch my breath after taking the checkered flag. But huge thanks to Taylor (Moyer) and everyone on our Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions team. We raced hard today and it was a lot of fun out there. It’s a great feeling to keep ourselves out of trouble, execute our strategy, and to come out of here with a solid finish. I appreciate all these guys and their efforts today.”
The Upcoming Schedule Favors Mayer
The 2021 season understandably featured a mix of high and low moments for Mayer. He had some strong performances, followed up mechanical issues or crashes. He has experienced similar trends during the six-race start to the 2022 season, albeit to a lesser degree.
Mayer will now try to build off of his top-five finish at tracks where he had strong runs in 2021. He will first head to Richmond Raceway, the site of a 12th-place finish, for the ToyotaCare 250. He will follow that Xfinity Series race up with a trip to Martinsville Speedway, the track where he finished fourth overall as a rookie.
It will be critical for Mayer to turn in strong performances at both short tracks considering that the Xfinity Series season will then head to Talladega Superspeedway, Dover Motor Speedway, and Darlington Raceway. Mayer crashed during his first Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway and he ended the trip to Darlington Raceway early due to brake issues. He does not have any Xfinity Series experience at Dover Motor Speedway.