Gragson Collects First Win of 2018 with Dominant Performance at Kansas

Gragson Collects First Win of 2018 with Dominant Performance at Kansas Getty Images for NASCAR
Noah Gragson captured the pole, led a race-high 128 laps and swept all three stages of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City Friday night. Gragson surrendered the lead to hit pit road for his final scheduled pit stop with 33 laps remaining and then had to watch varying pit strategies play out before finally regaining the lead with six laps remaining. Once out front, the 19-year-old was able to keep Kyle Busch in his rear-view mirror, crossing the finish line 1.558 seconds ahead of his team owner to pick up his first Truck Series victory of 2018 and the second of his career.
 
Stage One Recap: 
  • Gragson captured the pole for the second straight week in Friday afternoon's qualifying session at Kansas Speedway. It was his second pole of 2018 and fifth of his NCWTS career.
  • The 19-year-old driver elected to take the outside lane for the start of the race and would end up running second to veteran Matt Crafton for the first four laps of the event. Gragson made his way around Crafton on lap five and would remain out front for the remainder of Stage One. It marked the fourth time in the last five races that he captured the playoff point associated with winning the opening stage. 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • After communicating to crew chief Rudy Fugle that his Safelite Tundra needed "just a little more rear security," Gragson brought his Toyota to pit road between stages for four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel.
  • A fast stop by the over-the-wall crew kept the No. 18 out front when Stage Two went green on lap 50.
  • A strong restart allowed the Las Vegas native to keep the lead once the green flag waved and he would remain out front for the entirety of Stage Two. 
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 and returned Gragson to the track scored in the second position behind Justin Haley who elected to take just two tires.
  • The Final Stage went green on lap 88 and the No. 18 Safelite Tundra quickly made its way back to the front of the pack. Gragson remained out front when debris on the track slowed the field for the third time on lap 100.
  • Gragson held serve on the lap-104 restart, but it was short lived as Stewart Friesen was able to work his way into the lead just before a one-truck spin slowed the field on lap 106.
  • An issue with Friesen's clutch caused his truck to stall during the caution and he fell back to the seventh spot before he got his truck moving again.
  • With Friesen's issues, Gragson inherited the lead again for the lap-110 restart. The Truck Series sophomore would slowly pull away from the pack as the race approached the closing laps. He maintained a one-second lead on Friesen went he was summoned to pit road for a scheduled stop with 33 laps remaining.
  • After getting four fresh tires and fuel, the No. 18 Toyota returned to the track in the 11th position as he was one of the first trucks to pit.
  • Friesen and Busch both took just right-side tires when they hit pit road, putting them five seconds ahead of Gragson on the track. Five trucks who pitted during the debris caution were also ahead of Gragson as the race neared its conclusion.
  • Gragson would take advantage of his fresh tires and began closing in on Friesen and Busch. He worked his way around Busch for the fifth spot with 11 laps remaining and one lap later passed Friesen for the fourth spot. Next up he passed Austin Hill and Darrell Wallace with eight laps remaining to move into the second position but still found himself behind Myatt Snider, who was trying to stretch his fuel to the end.
  • Snider's gamble on fuel backfired when he ran out of fuel with six laps remaining. When Gragson regained the lead, Busch was 0.46 seconds behind him in the runner-up position. In the closing laps the employee would open the lead up on the boss as Gragson crossed the finish line 1.558 seconds ahead of Busch.

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Steven B. Wilson

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