It was definitely a season to remember in 2019 for Sam Mayer. The Franklin, Wisconsin teenager made a huge splash in the stock car community, becoming the youngest champion in the 32-year history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and earning seven top-five finishes in eight starts in the ARCA Menards Series.
Driving for GMS Racing, the organization that won the ARCA championship with Grant Enfinger at the wheel in 2015, Mayer won a third of his twelve East starts including a pair of victories at Bristol Motor Speedway, a win at Iowa Speedway, and a championship-clinching win in the finale at Dover International Speedway. Three of those wins came from the pole, and at the April race at Bristol he led all 150 laps on his way to the win. He was almost equally as dominant at Iowa, where he led 142 of the race’s 150 laps, and again at Dover, where he led 123 of the race’s 125 laps.
His average starting position and finishing position were a dominant 3.2, and he completed all but eight of a possible 1,431 laps throughout the season.
Mayer’s season in the ARCA Menards Series didn’t include another visit to victory lane, but he was tantalizingly close.
After a fuel pump failure left him fifteenth in his season debut at Pensacola, Mayer showed he would be a threat throughout the season when he finished second to Michael Self in the first of two visits to Salem Speedway. He followed with a fifth-place finish at Toledo Speedway, which would be the lowest he would finish throughout the rest of his ARCA season.
A trip back to his home state resulted in a third-place finish at Madison International Speedway, sending him to his series debut on a track longer than one mile with some momentum.
Mayer found himself battling for the win at WWT Raceway at Gateway, taking the lead with ten laps remaining and crossing the stripe to take the white flag with a narrow lead on Ty Gibbs. The two raced hard into turn three, and unfortunately for Mayer, he come out on the short end of the stick. Pushed up out of the preferred groove, he dropped from the lead to third at the finish.
Another visit to the upper Midwest, this time to Elko Speedway in Minnesota, resulted in his third consecutive third-place finish. A return to Salem Speedway saw him come out on the losing end of a late-race game of bumper tag that left he and the GMS team frustrated after the race, but he still came away with a fifth-place finish at the end.
Mayer’s ARCA season came to a close just after he closed out his East tour championship at Lucas Oil Raceway, and just like he did at Dover, he ended on a high note with another third-place run for his seventh top-five of the year in just eight starts.
Mayer ended the season fourteenth in the final series driver standings and has plans to return in 2020 to compete for the ARCA Menards Series East and Showdown championships.
ARCA’s 67th season will come to a close when Christian Eckes will officially be crowned the 36th ARCA Menards Series champion on Saturday, December 14 at the Championship Banquet held at the Indiana State Convention Center, held annually in conjunction with the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show. Tickets to the black tie gala, which are also available to the general public, are on sale now.