Saturday (April 15, 2023) racing at Martinsville Speedway showcased the NASCAR Xfinity Series with an evening start to finish under the lights.

The running order in the top 5 fluctuated slightly as Cole Custer led the field at the start but John Hunter Nemechek drove to the front and held for stage wins and the finale.

Nemechek, Sammy Smith and Cole Custer ran the top three slots for most of the evening with Josh Berry sneaking in the mix but ultimately coming across in 4th. Brandon Jones filled out the top 5.

The win of the Before You Dig 250 is Nemechek’s 2nd win of the season and also adds to his grandfather clock collection as he has a previous win at Martinsville in the Truck series.

PHOTO GALLERY – Call811,com Before You Dig 250 / Xfinity at Martinsville Speedway

Ah…. Virginia in the Spring! Richmond Raceway had a push from Friday evening as rain came in just as green flag events were set to start. The march 31st Spring opener, NASCAR Whelen Modifieds, was rolled in to XFinity Saturday. The Virginia Is For racing Lovers 150 was now held over to Saturday afternoon to follow the ToyotaCare 250.

Saturday was April 1st… April Fools Day, as it were… The weather pulled more rain out of the jester’s hat and pulled the plug on XFinity practice and qualifying. The same for NASCAR Cup… No practice and no qualifying. The starting order to be determined by the “rules”, or points, or numbers from a hat, or magic. With that, Justin Allgaier was determined to start in the first slot.

He would lead the field to green when racing could get started. The rain held the new schedule back by a bit with racing going green about an hour late. This also pushed everything else back, as in the start of the Whelen Modified race. This might not have been a thing but some of the drivers, such as Bobby LaBonte, also had eyes on South Boston Speedway and the SMART Modified Tour which was now set for later Saturday night.

Yes… It’s all a bit confusing… Mostly wet and windy… But still confusing.

Once the rain had moved on and the green flag had waved, racing progressed with few incidents. The day set a second place finish for John Hunter Nemechek which extends his “almost but not quite” set as a runner up at Richmond. Nemechek has run 2nd in Trucks and XFinity for his most recent visits.

It was Chandler Smith taking charge on the final restart to get by Nemechek and take his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win. The rookie was able to make the pass and the victory run over the final six laps to put the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in Victory Lane.

Josh Berry also made the top three with a front running performance. Smith, Nemechek and Berry all had leading laps and solid racing for the entire rum of the ToyotaCare 250.

The Whelen Modifieds took the track as soon as the XFinity teams could clear it out. Early spins and crowded racing put several cautions on the field early on. The late half settled down as the laps began to turn with challenges for place on the longer run.

At the finish of the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150, it was Austin Beers who led the field under the checkered flag. The performance carried forward his fast practice and pole winning drive at qualifying from Friday.

PHOTOS: NASCAR XFinity ToyotaCare 250 – Richmond Raceway – April 1, 2023

PHOTOS: NASCAR Whelen Modified – Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 150 – April 1, 202

Daytona, NASCAR… Throw a bit of controversy in the mix… The result is the Xfinity “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner 300″…

Yes, there were cautions and lead changes but it was Austin Hill with the checkered flag. (Again… He won last year, also)

Hill started on the pole and was in the front bunch for the most part. It was the last lap, however, that has some people looking a little closer. Sam Mayer made a hot move to get in front but speed, air, tight racing and an attempted block brought his Accelerate Chevy down on the other cars which threw the back out and into the wall. The result was a flip and roof slide that, fortunately, tossed the car back on the wheels as it came to a stop. Mayer was later checked and released OK from medical.

Sam Mayer, last lap at Daytona. Xfinity – Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner 300

The question becomes the caution and the timing. NASCAR last lap caution rules are based on who is in front at the “time of caution”. This has some #7 Justin Allgaier in a twist as he was in front as the #1 went loose, hit the wall, and was already flipped when the caution lights and flags came out.

Mayer already backwards and beginning to flip – Caution not yet on – Justin Allgaier (#7) has the lead

Call it maybe 2 seconds… 2 and a half… Maybe…? In that small span of reaction time to the events on the track, Hill had gotten by Allgaier as those lights came on. With that, NASCAR set the timing on the video replay to the timing of the caution “ON” and gave Hill the win.

Photo Call at the time of the caution.

Allgaier fans are a little upset. Was the caution “late”…? Could the caution have come quicker…?
Best we have is “maybe”. There are fingers on buttons and those fingers are attached to human beings that have eyes on different spots and have reaction times to what they see. At Daytona speeds, those reactions are measured with real distance.

Hill is the winner. Allgaier was third. John H. Nemechek came across in the 2nd slot, which could also be a thing as he was below the yellow apron line. Yes, he was forced down due to the on track action but…

Rules and calls are best left to the officials. Second guessing and hindsight calls are what water coolers are for…

Do we still have those…?

Ty Gibbs is seems to be collecting early season wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Seven starts and three wins have put Gibbs in a spot of having a lead in playoff points but a second spot in the regular season standings. A.J. Allmendinger holds the lead in the season using the NASCAR math of a race win plus top 5, top 10 and stage wins. Despite the real series leading 3 wins for Gibbs, the #54 driver and #9 driver, Noah Gragson are tied 20 points off of Allmendinger.

For Richmond Raceway and the ToyotaCare 250, Ty Gibbs was driving hard for the win all day. He and team mate John Hunter Nemechek started one and two with Toyotas leading the field to the green flag. Nemechek took the stage 1 win. Gibbs was in front for stage 2. In the final laps, the #54 of Gibbs and the #18 of Nemechek were still racing for the lead. The #18 had gotten around the #54 with 3 laps to go after several exchanges over the final 50 laps. Gibbs was on the bumper of the #18 with a nudge here and tap there.

It came down to the final turn of the final lap as Ty Gibbs came into turn three underneath Nemechek and drove the #54 up into turn four forcing Nemechek onto the brakes or into the wall. The move put Gibbs out front on the front stretch for the win.

Post race, Gibbs knew there was trouble ahead. “I definitely deserve one back but we’re racing for wins” he said.

Nemechek, who is actually running full time in the Camping World Series, was noticeably put off by the last lap. “Him and I will settle it one day,” Nemechek said. “I don’t want to say too much and get myself in trouble…. Just got drove through… He didn’t even try and make the corner…”

Also noteable for the ToyotaCare 250 was a first time Xfinity starter, Rajah Caruth. The 19 year old African-American driver is an ARCA and Advance Auto Weekly Series driver racing with Alpha Prime Racing at Richmond. His first Xfinity start comes at a track he had visited as a child with his family. He finished 24th.

The Comcast Dash 4 Cash winner at Richmond (four drivers determined eligible after Circuit of the Americas) was Sam Mayer, driver of the #1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet. The eligible drivers at Martinsville will be Ty Gibbs, Sam Mayer, AJ Allmendinger and Riley Herbst.

The Top 5 finishers in the ToyotaCare 250

  1. Ty Gibbs
  2. John Hunter Nemechek
  3. Sam Mayer
  4. AJ Allmendinger
  5. Riley Herbst

PHOTOS from the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway