Gragson's Bid for Victory at Gateway Leaks Away Late

Gragson's Bid for Victory at Gateway Leaks Away Late Getty Images for NASCAR
Noah Gragson was leading the Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park when a debris caution slowed the field with 10 laps remaining. The young driver communicated to his crew that he felt like he had an issue with one of his rear tires just before the field took the green with six laps remaining. As the field entered Turn 1, the issue kept the Safelite Tundra from turning properly and Gragson washed up the track into his teammate Todd Gilliland.
 
Gragson subsided to the eighth position before a caution occurred as the field went down the backstretch. After getting four fresh tires, The No. 18 Toyota returned to the track scored in the 12th position for the two-lap shootout to the finish. The team would gain two spots over the final laps to bring home its seventh top-10 finish of 2018.
 
Stage One Recap: 
  • Gragson posted the third fastest time in the final round of Saturday afternoon's qualifying session. He had advanced one position when the first caution of the race occurred on lap 23. Crew chief Rudy Fugle elected to remain on the track when pit road opened, leaving his driver scored in the second spot when the field went back green with eight laps remaining in Stage One.
  • A one-truck accident on lap 34 brought out the caution with one lap remaining in the stage and the Safelite AutoGlass Tundra would finish the opening segment in the second spot. 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • Fugle summoned his driver to pit road between stages for four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and a wedge adjustment. With several teams electing to pit under the first caution and remaining on track at the stage break, Gragson was scored in the 13th position when Stage Two went green on lap 41.
  • Within two laps, the No. 18 Toyota was back inside the top 10 and remained moving forward. Gragson settled into the fourth spot on lap 56 and was scored there when the field was slowed for the third time on lap 65. The stage would once again end under caution..
Final Stage Recap: 
  • When pit road opened, Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for fresh right-side tires and a full tank of fuel. Quick work by the over-the-wall crew allowed Gragson to win the race off pit road.
  • The Final Stage went green on lap 75 with the Gragson out front. The Las Vegas native would remain out front until his teammate Christian Eckes got wrecked and brought out the caution on lap 77.
  • Brett Moffit would get past Gragson when the field went green on lap 81. The Safelite Tundra would settle into the runner-up spot, where it would remain until the fifth caution of the night occurred on lap 98.
  • When pit road opened, Gragson brought his Toyota to the attention of the pit crew who put on fresh left-side tires and filled his truck with fuel. Speedy work put Gragson back out front when the field went back green on lap 104.
  • The No. 18 Tundra was out front by nearly a second when debris out the track brought out the caution with 10 laps remaining. Gragson radioed to his crew that he felt like a tire going down before the field took the one to go signal, but all four tires visibly appeared to be intact.
  • After taking the restart with six laps to go, Gragson drove into Turn 1 and washed up the track due to the tire issue. The Safelite Tundra had subsided to the eighth position when debris on the track slowed the field for the final time just moments later.
  • Gragson brought his Toyota down pit road for four fresh tires and returned to the track scored in the 12th position for the two-lap shootout. The team confirmed that there was a slow leak in his right-rear tire after evaluating the situation. The talented teenager was able to pick up two spots over the final two laps to earn his fifth consecutive and seventh overall top-10 finish this season.

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Steven B. Wilson

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