By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
“A rollercoaster of a day to say the least,” said Sam Mayer.
Drivers often refer to Dover Motor Speedway as a rollercoaster of a race track. But for Mayer, Saturday’s entire 200-mile Xfinity Series race was just that following a top-five run.
Starting the A-Game 200 from a career-high second spot, Mayer flexed his muscles in the early run, battling for the race lead before leading 18 laps.
“Our Camaro was probably one of the best cars here today,” Mayer said. “We passed, I don’t know, like 50 cars today… it felt like 100.”
Indeed, with JR Motorsports teammates in line, Mayer soon encountered issues on pit road, including a loose wheel, forcing him back onto pit road for a second time under caution.
Restarting from the back of the field, Mayer’s day got a lot more difficult, with dozens of cars to pass in order to crack the top 10 again.
“I really can’t say what happened,” he said of the pit road incidents. “I was trying to get up and go and trying not to lose too many spots.
“I’m getting really good at [coming from the back]. We’ve come from the back, it feels like, 12 times this year. And we’re not even 12 races into the season. We got a lot of the nit-picky details to work on, whether it be myself for the team in general.”
The comeback had a positive end when Mayer drove his No. 1 JRM Chevrolet into the fifth spot following the race’s final restart with 34 laps to go. The result was Mayer’s fourth top-five finish in the last five races in 2022, however, it was a day that could have been.
“I never really got to show how good the speed actually was,” he said. “They know we were here. We definitely worked our tails off for this top five.
👀 Doesn't get much closer than that! pic.twitter.com/pGMgoSClC6
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) April 30, 2022
“But when you’re frustrated, you don’t really learn anything. I should be super proud of myself and happy for myself, but there is a weird feeling inside that says that we need to dig deeper and go harder. The team deserves it because they’ve had such good cars every week.”
The JRM speed was in full swing Saturday, with all four Chevrolets filling the top five, including victory for Josh Berry and the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 prize for fourth-place Noah Gragson.
“Obviously, the company had a really good day,” he said. “Noah [Gragson] getting the Dash 4 Cash, good job to him, that’s awesome. And then the No. 8 [Josh Berry] with the win. We’re going to have a really fun week with a bunch of parties because it was so successful. But it sucks to be the bottom of the totem pole there.
“You’re successful in racing when you’re disappointed with a top five.”