BRISTOL, Tenn. – On a night when all the talk was about the 10 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series playoff contenders, 17-year-old Sam Mayer flipped the script upside down.
Utilizing tires that were 50 laps fresher than GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt’s, Mayer ran down the 2018 Truck Series champion, passed him and drove away to win Thursday’s UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics.
Mayer – driving in a part-time role for GMS this season – was catching Moffitt from several seconds back after taking the runner-up spot with 69 laps left, but a caution with 45 to go for the spinning truck of Austin Wayne Self stacked the field up and put Mayer alongside Moffitt for a late-race restart.
Racing resumed with 34 to go, and Mayer quickly slotted in behind his teammate before dogging him around the .533-mile concrete bullring. Four laps after the restart, Mayer made his move for the win.
With a textbook bump to the left-rear corner of Moffitt’s truck, Mayer moved his teammate up the race track, got alongside and completed the pass entering turn one on the 171st lap.
Mayer never gave up control after that, controlling the remaining distance and eventually taking the checkered flag with a commanding 4.413-second advantage over Moffitt.
The breakthrough win for the Franklin, Wis., native came in just his seventh career Truck Series start, and Mayer was understandably at a loss for words on the frontstretch as he soaked in the moment.
“What? Oh my gosh, Bristol dude. I love this place,” Mayer said. “This is win No. 3 for me here (after two prior ARCA Menards Series East victories) and man, I don’t know what to say. I can’t thank the guys back at the shop enough.
“They worked their tails off. We fired off so well. We only made one trackbar adjustment all day; that’s it. This feels so good.”
Thursday night’s win was the seventh of the season for GMS Racing, but it was one that still surprised Mayer, given how fresh the teenager is in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
“Not really,” Mayer admitted when asked if he thought he was capable of winning so soon. “I knew the team was (capable). I knew everyone that was a part of this No. 24 team. I knew they could do it. I just had to come here and perform.
“That last pit stop put us in a perfect place and we were able to drive right by all of them. That’s such a good feeling!”
Moffitt came home a distant second and said that Mayer’s fresher tires were the difference at the end.
“Last year, (Mayer’s new tires) probably wouldn’t have been a problem with the tires we had then, but this year they were just wearing out more,” Moffitt explained. “We corded the left front (tire) on the first stage. Tires got us at the end, for sure. We had a super-fast Chevy Silverado, though.
“We need some sponsors on this thing, but I’m proud of everyone at GMS for all of us having fast trucks and this is a good start to the playoffs for this team.”
Tanner Gray tied his career-best finish with a third-place result, followed by Parker Kligerman and Trevor Bayne, two part-timers who both impressed with top-five finishes on Thursday night.
Chandler Smith, Grant Enfinger, Tyler Ankrum, Ross Chastain and Johnny Sauter filled out the top 10.
Austin Hill finished lowest among the playoff contenders after being involved in two of the night’s five caution flags. He ended the race 26th, five laps back of the leaders.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.