Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Lack of Cup Series discussions make Sam Mayer 'so mad'

Sam Mayer has won six Xfinity Series races in 99 career starts, yet his name does not get regularly included in discussions about potential Cup Series rides. This is something that has not escaped his notice.

"Yeah, it kind of pisses me off, to be honest with you," Mayer said after winning Saturday's Xfinity race at Iowa. "I feel like we've proved ourselves a lot more. Like I'm dead serious. It makes me so mad that my name isn't in more hats for race teams.

"So hopefully today kind of put my name in a couple of them. We're working really hard. I want to go Sunday racing, obviously, one day. How soon? I don't know."

There are three drivers frequently mentioned when discussing the next generation of Cup talent -- Corey Heim, Riley Herbst, and Cole Custer.

Heim competes full-time in the Craftsman Truck Series. He has nine wins in 53 Truck starts, three top-10 finishes in 11 Xfinity starts, and two top-25 finishes in two Cup starts.

Herbst, who finished second at Iowa behind Mayer, has one win in 157 Xfinity starts. He has four top-10 finishes in 11 Truck starts and two top-10 finishes in six Cup starts. This includes a 10th-place finish in his first-ever Cup race, the 2023 Daytona 500.

Custer has achieved the most success out of this group. He has two Truck wins in 42 starts, 13 Xfinity wins in 158 starts, and one win in 117 Cup starts. Custer is also the reigning Xfinity champion.

Mayer has not yet made a start in NASCAR's top series. Though this seems destined to happen in the future considering that JR Motorsports has been a pipeline for Cup talent.

Chase Elliott, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski, Danica Patrick, Noah Gragson, and Josh Berry all drove for JR Motorsports en route to the Cup Series. Elliott, Byron, and Reddick all won championships with the organization while Gragson and Berry reached the Championship 4.

Mayer has checked off one of those items. He reached the Championship 4 for the first time last season after winning four races. This season, he has two wins in the first 15 races. He has finished top 10 in more than 50% of the races.

If Mayer continues producing on the track at this current rate, he will potentially get the opportunity to at least make his Cup debut if not contend for a full-time ride.

"Me, (Riley Herbst), all those guys, there are so many people in the top five and top 10 that have something to prove," Mayer said. "If you can be top dog in those guys, I feel like you deserve it."