Double Makes History For Mayer

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 18 2020

Sam Mayer, No. 24, chased down No. 23 Brett Moffitt to win Thursday night’s Truck Series race.

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Sam Mayer etched his name in motorsports history Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, becoming the first driver to ever win a NASCAR national touring series race and an ARCA event on the same day.

First, the 17-year-old Mayer defeated teammate and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title contender Brett Moffitt in the UNOH 200. Then 2 ½ hours later he emerged victorious in the ARCA Menards Series Busch’s Beans 200. 

“I’m still at a loss for words,” Mayer said shortly after his ARCA victory. “Even after the Truck race it still hasn’t set in yet. I’m just so grateful for everyone that is behind me. It’s hard to think that this is happening.”

Mayer admitted he had not yet processed his achievement.

“It will probably be next weekend before I understand what just happened tonight,” said the Wisconsin native, who will compete part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series next year for JR Motorsports.

Driving for GMS Racing in both of Thursday’s events, Mayer’s inaugural Truck victory came in only his seventh start. His ARCA victory marked his fifth this season and his third straight. The Bristol race also counted as an ARCA Menards East Series race, giving Mayer his fourth victory in five events on that circuit in 2020. In the ARCA Menards West Series, Mayer won the season opener at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring in February.  

In Thursday night’s UNOH 200 Truck race, Mayer led only once, snatching the top spot from Moffitt with 30 laps remaining in the playoffs’ opening race.

“Obviously, I don’t want to ruin his playoffs, but I want to win,” said Mayer, who defeated Moffitt by 4.413 seconds. “I let him go early in the race because he was just better at that point. You just have to be smart when you’re racing these guys in the playoffs, especially when they’re your teammates.” 

Moffitt said he wasn’t surprised at Mayer winning so early in his Truck career.  

“He ran really well here last year in a GMS Truck … and at Gateway he was the class of the field a few weeks ago in that truck,” Moffitt said. “Ultimately, it came down to a restart that he got beat.

“He’s a really good race car driver. If he can just get restarts down a little bit better, which will come with experience … that’s definitely the weak link right now for Sam, but he does an extremely good job driving our cars and our trucks. At the same time, he’s only 17 years old, so it’s fun to watch him grow and mature as a driver.”   

In the ARCA race, just as has been the case for most of the season, the event came down to a contest between Mayer and Ty Gibbs. However, Mayer possessed a slight advantage over Gibbs, having learned the grip level of the track in the Truck race. Mayer led four times for 116 laps, while Gibbs set the pace on two occasions for 53 laps. Overall, the two competitors led all but 31 of the 200 laps on the tough short track. Mayer claimed his victory over Gibbs by 2.572 seconds. 

“Obviously, we are going up the ranks at the same time at the same speed,” Mayer said about Gibbs. “Obviously, we’re going to be racing with him, if everything goes right, for the next 20 years of our lives, so you’ve just got to have that respect for one another. I got into him a couple of times and he got into me a couple of times tonight, but in the end it was all fun. Obviously, he wanted to win … but we did our job just a little bit better.”  

 Gibbs, who has won four ARCA Menards Series races this year, noted he was frustrated with his second-place finish. 

“I’m built to win. I’m not built to go out here and run laps,” Gibbs said. 

After Mayer’s ARCA victory, the teenager, who’s had a steering wheel in his hands since age 4, admitted his emotions were “all over the place.”

“I have so much appreciation for what this team has done and what we have accomplished here tonight,” Mayer said. “Obviously, it’s a big deal and I have teared up probably three or four times tonight. That’s something I have never done before. It’s so special and I’m so grateful.” 


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 18 2020
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