Nemechek wins NASCAR Xfinity regular-season finale at Kansas Speedway

John Hunter Nemechek takes the checkered flag to win Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway. Photo by David Barks.

Kligerman wins the battle for the final playoff spot

KANSAS CITY, Ks – John Hunter Nemechek and Parker Kligerman were the big winners at Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 – the regular-season finale in the NASCAR Xfinity series.

Nemechek won the race while Kligerman won the final spot in the upcoming championship playoffs.

John Hunter Nemechek celebrates in Victory Lane after winning Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway. Photo by David Barks.

“(Crew chief) Ben (Beshore) and all the guys made the right adjustments all day,” said Nemechek, who won for the second time at Kansas and the eighth time in his career. “They brought a really fast hot rod… Overall, just super pumped, super ecstatic.

“I’m looking forward to getting the Playoffs started next week at Bristol. We came in here trying to get the Regular Season Championship. I thought that we were going to have a 60-point day this weekend, and that’s what we did. We controlled what we could control. We did everything that we possibly could.

“So, let’s go to the Playoffs—I’m ready.”

“I was definitely the biggest John Hunter fan on the last run there,” said Kligerman, who finished 25 points ahead of Herbst for the final Playoff spot. “I’m really proud of this whole Big Machine Racing team. 

“With what I’ve seen do for the last 12 weeks, I felt like, if we could just get in the Playoffs, and we bring this going forward, we’re going to race for a championship.”

Parker Kligerman (48) and Riley Herbst (98) battle side-by-side during Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway. Kligerman finished fourth to beat out Herbst for the 12th ahd final playoff spot. Photo by David Barks.

For Nemechek, it was a dominant day, winning both stages as well as the race.

He led 154 of the race’s 200 laps over the Kansas Speedway 1.5-mile oval, cruising to a 7.216-second victory over Brandon Jones.

Sheldon Creed finished third with Kligerman fourth, earning Kligerman his first shot at the playoffs.

Kligerman was in a battle with Riley Herbst for the 12th and final playoff spot.

But Herbst ran into trouble on the restart after the race’s fifth caution.

Both racers were running in the top 10 with just two points separating them from the final playoff spot when Kligerman had trouble shifting through the gears on the restart. Herbst was right behind Kligerman and ran into the back end of Kligerman’s car.

Kligerman came out of the incident okay but Herbst’s front end was damaged, sending him to the pits for repairs.

Herbst came back two laps down, eventually got those laps back, and worked his way back up to the top 10.

But on lap 128, Herbst was forced back to the pits when he had trouble with his right front tire, essentially ending his day and his shot at the playoffs. He eventually ended the race in 23rd place, two laps down.

“I think we had one of the fastest cars out there today,” said Herbst. “We just weren’t good enough.”

Justin Allgaier (7) and Sammy Smith (18) lead the field at the start of Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300. Photo by David Barks.

Austin Hill finished fifth, which wrapped up the regular-season championship, earning Hill an extra 15 playoff points. Nemechek was the only driver who could have wrestled the regular-season title away but he had to finish seven or more places ahead of Hill to claim the title.

“We struggled with our balance all day,” said Hill. “We’d fire off well and the car would be decent but once we got about 20 laps into each run, it would start to fall off.

“Just happy that we were able to bring home the Regular Season Championship, get the extra 15 bonus points–which is huge. But we’ve got to go to work. We’ve got to be better. The 20 (Nemechek) was the class of the field all day.

“Really kind of stunk up the show there, so we’ve got to go back to the drawing board, figure out what we’ve got to do better for next time.” 

Josh Berry finished sixth, followed by Brett Moffitt, Derek Kraus, Joe Graf Jr., and Kaz Grala.

It was Nemechek’s sixth win of the season. It was also the 200th Xfinity Series win for Toyota and the 193rd Xfinity win for Joe Gibb Racing.

“The six wins is super special,” said Nemechek. “We’ve won our fair share, but we’ve also lost our fair share.

“In the playoffs, you still want to win races. I’ve looked at the metrics. Each point we’ve earned means something, they’ll give you a cushion in the playoffs so if you have a bad week, you’re not out of the playoffs. But you really can’t afford any bad weeks and we still want to win more races.”

The 12 drivers advancing to the playoffs are, in order of playoff seeding, Nemechek, Hill, Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer, Sam Mayer, Chandler Smith, Josh Berry, Sheldon Creed, Jeb Burton, Daniel Hemric, and Kligerman.

The Xfinity series playoffs begin next Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

John Hunter Nemechek does a burnout after winning Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300. Photo by David Barks.
John Hunter Nemechek speaks with reporters after winning Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway. Photo by David Barks.
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