Hard-Fought Effort from Gragson Comes Up Just Short at Dover
Noah Gragson captured the pole for Friday's JEGS 200 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and was battling for the win before a late-race accident relegated the Safelite AutoGlass® Racing team to a 20th-place finish. Gragson, who led three times for a total of 60 laps, used a strong restart to wrestle the lead from eventual winner Johnny Sauter with 12 laps remaining, but as the two were racing hard side-by-side for the top spot coming to the white flag the two trucks made contact at the entrance of Turn 3 causing Gragson's Tundra to spin and slam backwards into the outside wall.
Stage One Recap:
- Gragson captured his first pole of the season in Friday afternoon's qualifying session and after the field took the green flag in the JEGS 200 went on to lead all 45 laps of Stage One. The Stage win was the Las Vegas native's third of the season.
Stage Two Recap:
- After communicating to crew chief Rudy Fugle that his Safelite Tundra was "a touch free on entry and tight on exit," Gragson brought his truck to pit road between stages for four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and a wedge adjustment.
- A slow stop by the over-the-wall crew left the No. 18 Toyota scored in the seventh position when Stage Two went green on lap 54.
- Mired in traffic for the entirety of Stage Two, the 19-year-old driver was only able to able to advance back up to the fourth position before a lap-88 caution brought the segment to a close.
Final Stage Recap:
- The NASCAR Next alum brought his Toyota to the attention of his over-the-wall crew, who administered a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment and returned Gragson to the track scored in the eighth position. Three pit road penalties allowed the Safelite Tundra to move up to the fifth spot when the Final Stage went green on lap 97.
- Gragson fell back to the sixth spot on the restart and lost another position just before the field was slowed for the fifth time on lap 156. The talented teenager communicated to Fugle that he needed "more front turn and more rear security" if he was going to be able to compete for the victory.
- Fugle ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop complete with what he labeled a "major adjustment." When the No. 18 Toyota returned to the track it was scored in the fourth position for the lap-162 restart.
- Gragson made a bold move on the restart that allowed him to move up to the runner-up spot by the time the field came back to the start-finish line. He settled in behind Sauter analyzing his weak spots as he patiently waited to make his move.
- With 20 laps remaining, two lap trucks spun just in front of Sauter. Both Sauter and Gragson narrowly made it through the pile up, setting up a late-race battle for the victory.
- Sauter elected the preferred outside lane for the restart with 13 laps remaining. The two raced side-by-side for over an entire lap before Gragson cleared Sauter for the lead down the backstretch with 12 laps remaining.
- Gragson would lead the next several laps by about two-truck lengths and then with five laps remaining Sauter found speed in the middle groove and began to close in. As he looked to the outside of Gragson, Gragson moved up the track to block his attempt for the lead. Sauter settled in right on Gragson's bumper as the race approached the final laps.
- Sauter got another strong run to the outside with two laps remaining. The two once again raced side-by-side down the backstretch and as they entered Turn 3, Gragson attempted to side draft Sauter to break his momentum. The two banged doors and Gragson's Tundra turned towards the apron and then shot rear-end first hard into the outside wall.
- With Gragson's day finished and the race going to overtime, the No. 18 Safelite team was relegated to a 19th-place finish.
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