Ryan Sieg gets short end of thrilling 0.002-second photo finish with Mayer at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas — Ryan Sieg was one-half of one of the closest finishes in NASCAR Xfinity Series history.

However, he was on the losing end, coming short by just 0.002 seconds to Sam Mayer as the two rubbed fenders down the frontstretch to the finish line under the Texas sunshine. That margin of victory tied for the second-closest result in series joining finishes at the Milwaukee Mile in 1996 and Talladega Superspeedway in 1999.

Despite making the highlight reel and getting pats on the back from his team and fellow competitors, there was no hiding the disappointment once Sieg climbed from his No. 39 RSS Racing Ford.

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“Just tough. I was doing all that I could do,” Sieg said. “I wish we were on the other side of that 0.002. It is what it is. 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.”

Sieg led 17 of the final 18 laps of the race. He took the lead after a wild second-to-last restart that put five cars under a blanket for the lead between Sieg, Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst, AJ Allmendinger and Mayer.

The final restart with 11 to go put Sieg as the control car and he shot out of a cannon and was in full command eyeing his first career victory.

However, as the laps wound down — seven, six, five, four — Mayer got bigger and bigger in Sieg’s mirror. When the white flag flew, Mayer was to the side of Sieg and the battle was on from there until the two drivers crossed the finish line.

“I should’ve ran him into the wall harder I guess, but I was trying to win the race,” Sieg said. “Just so close but so far away. Disappointing because we’re not in Victory Lane for sure. You know that’s what we all want. That’s what I want.”

Ryan Sieg and Sam Mayer cross the start/finish line nearly simultaneously in a photo finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas. Mayer won.
Ryan Sieg and Sam Mayer cross the start/finish line nearly simultaneously in a photo finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas. Mayer won.

Sieg added that his car was strongest right off the restart and on longer runs, which is why he was able to storm out to a healthy gap before the field would catch him just laps later.

“It did fall off and I was doing all I could do to adjust inside the car with what I do with my lines but it just got tight,” Sieg said. “I knew the more we went, the tighter our car got. We restarted pretty good and it would go tight. I kind of knew that. That’s why I started moving up but it took our car longer to start getting better. It’s like it was good at the beginning, kind of OK in the middle of a run and then better at the end. I was hoping I would get a big enough gap to stay out (front) but he was able to reel me in the closing laps there.”

The finish will sting for Sieg and the No. 39 team. One of the smaller organizations in the series and family-owned, Sieg was able to show what he could do when his car was firing on all cylinders and pulling away from the perennial title-contending cars in the series. He did it on two different occasions in the race that left him feeling proud.

“That’s definitely rewarding watching them get smaller in the mirror but not so good when they’re coming back toward us,” Sieg said. “But it’s a start. It sucks right now but it’s a start to more success so this is going to be a pretty good year with everything we’ve got going.”

There’s still plenty of reasons for the No. 39 collective to hold their heads high leaving Texas as Sieg has qualified for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus when the series heads to Talladega next Saturday. Sieg also matched a career-best second-place result for the third time in his career, the first of which came at Iowa Speedway in 2017 where the Xfinity Series will return to later this season.

“No regrets. I could have turned right harder just to keep him behind us but it was just a smidge too late,” Sieg said.