Smith, Allgaier, Hemric, Mayer emerge in Dash 4 Cash qualifier at Circuit of The Americas

Smith, Allgaier, Hemric, Mayer emerge in Dash 4 Cash qualifier at Circuit of The Americas

AUSTIN, Texas — The Dash 4 Cash program for the 2023 season has its first crop of qualifiers, and the four who emerged from Saturday’s rip-roaring NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Circuit of The Americas had tales to tell.

The quartet of Sammy Smith, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric and Sam Mayer — who finished fourth through seventh in that order — will be eligible for the first $100,000 payday in the four-race initiative when the Xfinity Series reconvenes next Saturday at Richmond Raceway for the ToyotaCare 250 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The four were the top finishers among Xfinity Series regulars in Saturday’s Pit Boss 250, behind race winner AJ Allmendinger, runner-up William Byron and third-place Ty Gibbs — all Cup Series points earners.

RELATED: Race results | About Dash 4 Cash for 2023

Mayer was the lowest finisher among the four, but he rekindled some fond memories. A year ago, the JR Motorsports driver came home a career-best fifth at COTA to save his place in the Dash 4 Cash, then went two places better the next week at Richmond to pocket the six-figure bonus.

“Looking to go back to back on that and get some cash for the team,” he said.

On Saturday, the 19-year-old was one of several drivers to survive the major ebbs and flows of an afternoon ruckus on the 3.41-mile road course, and he did it with a new face atop the pit box. Andrew Overstreet subbed in as crew chief for the No. 1 JRM Chevrolet when Mardy Lindley was sidelined by a non-COVID illness, according to the team.

“That was the biggest roller coaster I’ve been on,” Mayer said from pit road. “I thought Fontana was bad. That was horrible. But it feels good to come back for a top 10. I mean, we got spun twice by a couple knuckleheads, but I mean, overall, it was a super good day for our Accelerate Camaro, JRM as a whole.”

Smith — at 18, the youngest of the four — continued to impress as he continues his first full season of Xfinity Series competition. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver scored a breakthrough win two weeks ago at Phoenix, and Saturday’s run at COTA marked his second top-five result of the year.

“This is my first time being in Dash 4 Cash, so it’s cool,” Smith said. “A chance to win $100,000, and the mindset really hasn’t changed for that, but I feel good about Richmond and looking forward to next week.”

Allgaier has been a regular visitor to the Dash 4 Cash field, and his fourth top-five effort in six races this season earned him a return trip. He said that he broke second gear with just a handful of laps remaining, forcing him to go from first to third in his No. 7 JRM Chevy as he shifted down the stretch.

He enters next weekend fourth in Xfinity Series points, tops among those with Dash 4 Cash eligibility.

“It’s a good race track for us, too,” said Allgaier, a two-time Richmond winner. “So you know, when you have a good race track coming up on the schedule for our team, and you’ve got something that’s that cool of an initiative that Xfinity puts on, it makes it a lot more fun. So we can go in there next week with our heads held high, knowing we have a great race car and great team behind us, we’ve got a shot at 100 grand.”

Hemric corralled his fourth consecutive top-10 finish, saying he was thankful after clinching his first appearance in the Dash 4 Cash field since 2021. The Kaulig Racing driver tangled with John Hunter Nemechek with four laps to go but continued on to grab sixth.

Nemechek was in position to make the Dash 4 Cash field, but Hemric said the two just couldn’t get separated down the stretch. Nemechek eventually finished 27th after pitting with a flat tire.

“Him and I will talk about it and figure it out,” Hemric said. “Just tough racing.”