Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Sam Mayer Outduels Ryan Sieg in Texas Photo Finish

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

FORT WORTH, Texas – They say everything’s bigger in Texas and Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway lived up to the hype, coming down to a photo finish to determine the victor.

In the end, Sam Mayer and JR Motorsports would inch their way past Ryan Sieg and the little team that could, RSS Racing, by just .002 seconds at the finish line to bank the win in the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 – the second closest finish in Xfinity Series history.

Sieg took over the lead with 18 laps to go after masterfully slicing his way from 10th to first on a restart, but would have to survive the final restart to keep his hopes of scoring his first career win alive.

And he did just that, pulling away on the final restart with 11 laps to go. But it’s never over, until it’s over.

Lap by lap, Mayer ate into Sieg’s lead and was within striking distance as the white flag flew. By the time they made it around to the backstretch, the two drivers were side by side and it was anyone’s race to win.

Mayer motored past him and had the advantage entering Turn 3, but slid up the track, allowing Sieg to cut underneath him, setting up the drag race to the finish.

The two bounced off each other coming off Turn 4 for the final time, keeping their foot in the gas until the finish line, with Mayer inching out ahead of him at just the right time to score the victory – his first of the 2024 season.

“That’s absolutely unreal,” Mayer said. “This team, the amount of adversity we’ve had to fight this entire year so far and to come to a mile-and-a-half that I want to say I’m good at, but it took a lot.

“It took every ounce of me for me to do that today.”

Meanwhile, Sieg had fallen agonizingly close to his first career victory for his family-owned team. It was his third time finishing as the runner-up, but never this close, never having the win seemingly in his grasp only to lose it by such a slim margin.

“Just tough. I was doing all that I could do,” a disappointed Sieg said afterwards. “I wish we were on the other side of that .002. It is what it is. I think we are in the Dash For Cash now, so that is a good positive. We ran up front where we needed to be. We were able to make gains on it. I feel like there is more to come. We just have to put a full race together.

“Ugh, we were so close. That just sucks.”

The Lap 174 caution that was the turning point for Sieg to get to the lead was also the downfall for third-place finisher Justin Allgaier, who led a race-high 117 laps prior to that incident with Leland Honeyman.

After sweeping the first two stages, Allgaier found himself playing catch-up on the restart following that caution, falling to the bottom end of the top-10 before crawling back to the top-five before the final caution flag flew.

He would be able to climb up to third in the final green flag run, but just didn’t have enough to catch the leaders. Instead, he would have to settle for another near miss at Texas.

“We’ll go back and lick our wounds and try to figure it out,” said Allgaier. “I’m super frustrated at myself. The team did a phenomenal job. They were lights out on pit road, the pit crew was amazing. Jim made a great call on pit road with our pit strategy and brought me an unbelievable race car.

“I’m going to put this one on myself and walk out of Texas really angry at myself. We’ll come back here next year and hopefully have a little bit better finish.”

A.J. Allmendinger finished the race in fourth-place, followed by Cole Custer in fifth, with Austin Hill, Ryan Truex, Sammy Smith, Jesse Love, and Anthony Alfredo rounding out the top-10 finishers.

Next up for the Xfinity Series will be next Saturday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway – the Ag-Pro 300 at 4:00 pm ET on FOX.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.