John Hunter Nemechek won the Cabo Wabo 250 on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway marking a historic milestone for JGR despite an early collision, a late caution and an irate teammate.
Joe Gibbs Racing achieved its 200th series victory with the NASCAR Xfinity victory. It was Nemechek’s fifth victory of the year and seventh triumph overall, all at various tracks.
The fact that he won the fifth NASCAR Xfinity Series race of the season, the most in his division, was less important than how he did it. He had to overcome, for starters, being involved in a Lap 14 crash with teammates Ty Gibbs and Sammy Smith.
Under the resulting caution, Gibbs gestured aggressively towards Nemechek. Only because he became loose on the turn exit did Gibbs spin when he made contact with Nemechek behind him. By being struck by Carson Hocevar, who was unable to get away, Smith ended up having the worst of the incident.
Nemechek pulled away from Josh Berry, the pole winner, after a restart on lap 112 after Patrick Emerling slammed into the Turn 3 wall to bring out the seventh and final caution of the race. There were still seven laps remaining out of the 125 total.
As a result of the crash, Carson Hocevar’s No. 77 Chevrolet, which finished 2 laps later behind Smith’s car, was also severely damaged.
On the other hand, Nemechek made use of the opportunity to apologize to his colleagues and accept responsibility for the situation. It was a somber triumph for Nemechek.
“I have to apologize to Ty,” Nemechek said after climbing out of his car. “I’ve been the one who’s been very vocal about team-mates here recently.
“I put him in a bad aero spot. I got him loose, and he couldn’t check up.
“It’s my mistake. I hate that we both spun early, but at least we were able to rebound. I know he’s not too happy with me, and he has every right not to be.”
Nemechek triumphed 1.495 seconds ahead of Berry while Brandon Jones, Ty Gibbs, the incumbent race winner, and Sam Mayer finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.
Justin Allgaier who is Berry’s teammate, had good reason to be the most disgruntled contender in the race. Allgaier easily won the opening 30-lap stage, but a slow pit stop during the stoppage cost him eight positions in the classification.
Allgaier spun out after contact from Gibbs on pit road after moving up to second by the end of Stage 2.
A pit-road penalty for a crewman over the wall too soon during a green-flag stop on Lap 97 put him deep down the field in the middle of his subsequent recovery. In possibly the fastest car in the race, Allgaier came in at position 14.
With the win, Nemechek equaled Austin Hill for the series’ most points. Nemechek had five victories to Hill’s four, giving him the potential tiebreaker.
The remaining drivers in the top 10 were Riley Herbst, Ross Chastain, Parker Kligerman, Parker Retzlaff and Jeb Burton.
The upcoming Xfinity Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road circuit is set for next Saturday (5:30 p.m. ET, USA, IMS Radio, SiriusXM, NBC Sports App).