• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

John Hunter Nemechek wins Sunday night Xfinity race at Auto Club

ByBrenden Martin

Feb 27, 2023
John Hunter Nemechek Xfinity Auto Club

Photo courtesy of Meg Oliphant | Getty Images

In the rare instance of a Sunday NASCAR Xfinity race, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 driver John Hunter Nemechek took the checkered flag in the 2023 Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway.

Nemechek took home his third career Xfinity Series victory with his first in 2018 at Kansas Speedway with Chip Ganassi Racing and his second in 2021 as a part-time driver for JGR at Texas Motor Speedway.

The series returner won in his second race as a full-timer for JGR, giving the team its 11th Xfinity Series win at Auto Club.

This race marked the last for the track under its current two-mile configuration. Auto Club Speedway is being reconfigured to a half-mile track, a process that will take Fontana off the NASCAR schedule for at least next year.

“Ben [Beshore] and this whole 20 team gave me one heck of a race car,” Nemechek told FOX Sports’ Josh Sims on FS2. “This Toyota Supra was as fast as Xfinity 10G. I actually think it was faster than Xfinity 10G.”

Nemechek came inches away from winning at Daytona but made sure to take the lead early over Richard Childress Racing No. 21 driver Auston Hill, last week’s winner. Nemechek led all of the first 16 laps before the competition caution came out due to the lack of practice that got rained out on Friday.

The competition caution brought about a split tire strategy where a handful of cars stayed out, including Nemechek.

Hill retook the lead on fresher tires the lap of the restart, but that did not last long as Stewart-Haas racing No. 00 driver Cole Custer took the lead and didn’t look back. A late-stage caution brought by SS Green Light Racing No. 08 Gray Gaulding once again looked to split pit strategy, but Nemechek as well as Big Machine Racing No. 48 driver Parker Kligerman stayed out and earned stage points without needing to pit.

Custer swept both stages, giving him two playoff points and putting his stage win total to 19 in the Xfinity Series. The 10-time Xfinity Series winner last won at this track a year ago for SS Green Light, but issues early in the final stage when he suffered a flat tire on Lap 91 that took him out of contention. He ran his damaged car the rest of the way

RCR No. 2 driver Sheldon Creed had the highlight of the race, making a move that saved his car and kept him in contention. The 2020 Truck Series champion got turned trying to put a block on JR Motorsports No. 8 driver Josh Berry. Creed was careening to the infield wall head-on but spun his car in a way to only sustain minor damage.

It was overall a tough day for the three drivers who pulled double duty on Sunday by running in both the Cup and Xfinity races. Tyler Reddick hopped in the No. 24 Sam Hunt Racing Toyota Supra for the first time this season.

Reddick’s Auto Club experience did not go any better after a 34th-place finish in the Cup race. He was quickly put into the wall on the first lap by JRM No. 1 driver Sam Mayer. That trend continued with 54 laps to go when Berry squeezed Reddick into the wall, totaling his car.

Reddick finished 36th, making him third to last in both races on Sunday.

Ross Chastain continued his partnership with DGM Racing from last year in the No. 92 Chevrolet Camaro. However, he was a non-factor as he battled tightness all race to finish 24th after winning both stages and finishing third in the Cup race.

Austin Dillon had some very good luck come his way at the end of the race after getting caught up in the Custer wreck. Dillon and the No. 10 Chevy for Kaulig Racing opted to stay out as long as they could during the final green flag pit cycle and got the caution they were banking on when Alpha Prime Racing No. 43 driver Ryan Ellis spun with 23 laps to go.

Dillon got to pit from the lead with the rest of the pack and restart in the front row, but damage from hitting Custer pushed him back to eighth, still a massive improvement from where they were before the caution.

He also finished ninth in the Cup race to make him the only driver with two top-10 finishes on the day.

Nemechek kept his car clean to take the lead on the final restart with 12 laps to go. He held off Mayer who closed in during the final stretch but could not close the deal for what would have been his first Xfinity Series win.

The third-year driver said this result was much better than last week when he flipped on the final lap at Daytona.

“That last lap means a lot, that’s for sure,” Mayer told FOX Sports’ Regan Smith on FS2. “We struggled early on, that’s for sure. We had our work cut out for us. But I mean, we threw the kitchen sink at it and we ended up second so all things considered I’m really, really happy and really proud of these guys.”

Nemechek’s win brings Auto Club full circle. His father, Joe Nemechek, started the first Auto Club race on the pole and now John Hunter ends the final race on its layout with a win.

He secures his spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs where he will have a chance to compete for a title, just as he did with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series the last few seasons.

“I feel like this is one of the best opportunities that I’ve had in my lifetime and just grateful to have the opportunity that I have,” Nemechek said to Sims. “When I took a step back from the Cup Series I prayed a lot and had a lot of conversations with not only God but a lot of the mentors in the Cup garage. It seems to be going to plan.”

The 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season continues next week for the Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 4 at 4:30 p.m. EST.

Coverage of the third Xfinity race of the season will be on FOX Sports 1, Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NOTE: Post-race inspection is complete. There were no issues, confirming No. 20 John Hunter Nemechek as the winner.


Auto Club Xfinity race results


Auto Club Xfinity Driver Points


Auto Club Xfinity Owner Points