By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
JR Motorsports saw their dominant fleet fizzle on the final lap of Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Pocono Raceway. And though Sam Mayer came out as the team’s top finisher, he leaves with perhaps the biggest frown.
Restarting second on an overtime finish, only teammate Josh Berry was in the way of Mayer’s first series victory. And with the pole position and most laps led on the day for Berry’s No. 8, the battle was sure to be short-lived.
That was until Berry slid high in Turn 1 off the restart, opening the door for Austin Hill to snag the top spot and scoot away with win No. 4 in 2023. Behind him, Berry maneuvered high into the path of Mayer’s No. 1, causing Berry to cut a tire entering Turn 2 and pound the outside wall.
Mayer finished second, Berry 24th.
“It sucks… it’s a teammate, of course,” Mayer said. “Just trying to win a race and he’s backwards into the fence. I feel really bad. I put my car there and risked that and didn’t even think about the outcome. It sucks for our organization.”
Though Berry was the one to turn high right into his path, Mayer took the blame for the contact that quickly cost Berry the possible win.
“It’s tough to watch that. Coming around after the checkered flag and seeing the No. 8 backwards in the fence,” he said. “It just sucks to see that because I felt I caused it and I probably did.”
Despite the frustrating end, a second-place result ties his best finish for the third time in the series. Additionally, it extends his point cushion on the playoff bubble to 68 markers.
“I was super proud of staying in the game with all the damage we had, all the crazy crap that happened today. Everything worked out really well,” he said. “Everyone on top of the box did their job, JRM as an organization kicked tail today. Obviously, the [Nos.] 7 and 8 were really fast, we were fast, the 9 was up front.
“We were a powerhouse today and looking up at the scoreboard and not seeing one of us in Victory Lane is pretty painful. We did our best, I felt like I learned a lot today in a lot of different ways. And I’ll hopefully use that in the coming weeks before the playoffs.”