Nemechek passes Haley in overtime, holds off Hemric to win Atlanta NASCAR Xfinity race

Updated Jul. 8, 2023 11:19 p.m. ET

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — John Hunter Nemechek passed Justin Haley at the start of overtime and held off Daniel Hemric to win the NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday night for his third victory of the season.

Haley, who led 80 laps, was in a position to lead a parade of Kaulig Racing drivers in overtime but had no help on the restart while Nemechek made his move on the outside to take his first lead of the race.

“Early on in the race if you would have told me we would win the race, I definitely would have told you that wasn't the case,” Nemechek said after a long burnou t to celebrate.

Nemechek started second but didn't seem to have the best car until the very end.


“We just had to keep making our car better all night,” Nemechek said. “... We were able to execute on the restart.”

Hemric was second and his Kaulig Racing teammate, Haley, was fourth. Yet another Kaulig racer, pole-sitter Chandler Smith, began the overtime in second but finished 20th, apparently running out of gas.

Haley said he also was hampered by fuel concerns.

“Leading all those laps and running wide open, we were just short on fuel,” Haley said, adding "I probably couldn't be as aggressive as I wanted to be the last 20 laps. ... I thought obviously we had it won but things don't work out sometime.”

Cole Custer, who won last week in Chicago, finished third and described the overtime as “just chaos.”

“We're all kind of wondering if we're close on fuel or not,” Custer said. “We're just hoping nobody runs out of gas but half the field did.”

Austin Hill, looking for his fourth win of the season and his third consecutive win in Atlanta, was fourth when his hopes for a late surge ended with his spin with three laps to go. Hill wasn't touched but lost control of his Chevrolet when trying to make a move on Daniel Hemric.

The resulting caution set up the overtime, and Haley was unable to hold the lead.

Hill started at the back following a transmission change.

Hill didn't remain near last place very long. By the 38th lap of the first stage, Hill already had moved up to fifth. He finished second in stage 2.

Hill won the Atlanta Xfinity race in March and also last summer's race at the track. He was second in Atlanta's first 2022 race.

There were eight cautions. In Atlanta's March race, 12 cars were knocked out by 11 cautions, a track record for an Xfinity race.

Riley Herbst passed Josh Berry with a late surge win win the first stage, his first career stage win.

Sheldon Creed won the second stage, just ahead of Hill, his Richard Childress Racing teammate.

Early in the third stage, Creed and Ryan Sieg, who led part of the second stage in his search for his first career win, were involved in a crash that knocked both cars out of the race. Herbst also had to go to his garage for the night following the wreck.


The Xfinity Series moves to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon next Saturday. ___

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