The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers headed to the Charlotte Roval on Saturday, October 9, for the final Round of 12 race. AJ Allmendinger locked up the win and made history while multiple others move on by virtue of points. However, multiple non-playoff drivers headlined by Sam Mayer impressed with strong performances.
The driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is finishing out his first schedule in the Xfinity Series, one that did not begin until June 27 at Pocono Raceway. Mayer has posted six DNFs during his first 14 races, but he has also secured three top-10 finishes. The trip to the Charlotte Roval was the latest, but the 10th-place finish did not tell the full story.
Mayer battled with his fellow drivers throughout the 68-lap race, finishing Stage 1 in the 34th position. However, he moved his way up to second midway through Stage 2 before finishing the segment in the 10th position. Mayer continued fighting for a top-five finish during the final stage, running in the top three as the final caution flag waved with four laps remaining.
Once the green flag waved to kick off overtime, Mayer continued fighting with Austin Cindric for second behind Allmendinger. He and the Team Penske driver were side-by-side entering the chicane on Turns 11 and 12, but he slid through the penalty area and had to come to a full stop. Mayer lost his position but recovered in time to lock up 10th.
DGM Racing Drivers Have Historic Runs at the Roval
The playoff drivers turned the most heads at the Charlotte Roval, but three drivers for DGM Racing turned in strong runs. All three cars finished inside the top-15 for only the third time in team history.
Josh Williams, one of the two full-time drivers of the group, started 17th overall in the No. 92 Chevrolet Camaro. He turned in a consistent performance at the Roval, finishing 11th. Alex Labbe, the other full-time driver, started 20th in the No. 36 Chevrolet. He continued to showcase how road courses are strengths for him, turning in a 14th-place finish after dealing with multiple issues on pit road.
Preston Pardus, the part-time Xfinity Series driver, had the best performance out of the group. He started well behind his teammates in the 37th position, but he raced his way to a top-10 finish. The 3x Spec Miata champion turned in a strong run throughout the afternoon, battling with Sage Karam and Ty Gibbs for a top-10 finish during the final stage. He ultimately ended the day seventh overall after avoiding the incident on the final chicane.
A Late Incident & Penalty Disrupted Sage Karam’s Strong Run
IndyCar’s Karam made his third Xfinity Series start of 2021 at the Charlotte Roval, his second at a road course. He started 28th in the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro for Jordan Anderson Racing and got involved in the Lap 2 incident that brought out the caution flag, but he rebounded in a major way.
Karam raced in the top-10 throughout the final stage, moving as high as fifth overall with 21 laps remaining in the race. The IndyCar driver dropped to seventh with fewer than 10 to go, but he appeared to be on the cusp of locking up another top-10 finish for the first-year Xfinity Series team.
The situation changed with the overtime finish. Instead of having some separation between him and the other drivers, Karam had to fight through the pack and try to maintain his spot. He was within reach on the final chicane, but another driver spun him and dropped the No. 31 to the 14th position. NASCAR later assessed a 30-second penalty for missing the front stretch chicane, dropping Karam to 25th. Though he still came to a complete stop before crossing the finish line.
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