LINCOLN, Ala. — Ninteen-year-old Sam Mayer is quietly piecing together a consistent rookie campaign in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He has 10 top fives and 16 top 10s, but he’s missing one thing — a win.
On Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, it looked like his best chance of the season to finally score that elusive first victory.
After contending for most of the day, Mayer took the lead from AJ Allmendinger with two laps to go. With help of Ryan Sieg, Mayer took a sizeable lead and moved down to the bottom lane to block Allmendinger coming back to the white flag.
Exiting Turn 2, Mayer again pulled well ahead as the field jumbled up behind him. Allmendinger closed in entering Turn 3 before Mayer again pulled away. He’d have to block the field coming to the checkered flag.
Mayer threw a block on Sieg on the top before coming back down to block Allmendinger on the bottom. Allmendinger made a move two-thirds of the way through the tri-oval and passed Mayer on the inside, winning by mere feet.
“This is my first time really getting to the end of a speedway race coming to the checkered,” Mayer told USA Network. “It was a good first experience, I guess.
“I’ll take a top five at a place like this any day. Going into today, we were like just get some stage points and hopefully survive to the end. Obviously, we survived to the end and we did everything right, we were just three feet shy.
“Our Accelerate Chevy Camaro probably should be in victory lane right now.”
Though it will go in the record books as a second-place finish, there’s still a consolation for Mayer. He scored 41 points and increased his points margin from one to 12 above the Playoff cutline.
Next week, the Xfinity Series heads to the Charlotte ROVAL, a place where Mayer admittedly thrives at. He has three top 10s in five road course races this season, and last year, he finished 10th at the ROVAL.
Mayer wants to finally break through with his first Xfinity victory, but most importantly, he wants to survive the ROVAL and advance to the Round of 8 in the Playoffs.
“The ROVAL next weekend is one of my better tracks,” Mayer said. “We performed really well last year when I probably wasn’t at my best. I’m looking forward to it and I know what we have to do then. I think it’s going to be a good points day for us, no matter how you cut it.”
Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 presented by BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.