Gragson Battles to Top-10 Finish at Eldora

Gragson Battles to Top-10 Finish at Eldora Getty Images for NASCAR
Noah Gragson battled his way from the 27th starting position to a sixth-place finish in Wednesday night's Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. After making contact with the wall in his qualifying race, Gragson finished sixth and was forced to run the last chance race, where he finished second and earned his way into the main event.
 
The Las Vegas native was running 15th with 40 laps remaining in the lone dirt race of the season before maneuvering his way forward in the closing laps. He restarted from the 12th position with 14 laps remaining and two laps later avoided a three-truck wreck to advance to the eighth spot. The Safelite AutoGlass Tundra took the final restart, which came under NASCAR overtime rules, in the eighth position and gained two spots over the final two laps to earn his 10th top-10 finish of the season.
 
Gragson finished 10 spots ahead of points leader Johnny Sauter and for the second consecutive race closed the gap in the battle for the regular season championship. Sauter was leading the standings by 65 points after the event at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., but heads into next week's race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., holding a 32-point cushion with three races remaining.
 
Stage One Recap: 
  • Gragson started from the 27th position but got shuffled back on the initial restart and on lap two was at the tail end of the 32-truck field.
  • He was scored in the 28th position when the field was slowed for the first time for a one-truck spin on lap 11, 26th when another one-truck spin slowed the field again on lap 22 and 21st when the caution flew yet again for a one-truck spin on lap 28.
  • The field went back green with seven laps remaining in Stage One and the Safelite pilot was able to work his way up to the 18th position by the time the field took the green-checkered flag.
  • Crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his driver to pit road between stages for four fresh tires, a full load of fuel and a major chassis adjustment.
 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • With seven trucks remaining on the track between stages, Gragson restarted 25th when the field took the green for Stage Two.
  • He had advanced to the 20th spot when the field was slowed for the fifth time on lap 54. The event would go green for the final 30 laps of the stage with the Las Vegas finishing in the 23rd position.
  • Fugle elected to keep his driver on the track between stages to gain track position.
 
Final Stage Recap: 
  • The Safelite Tundra would take the start of the Final Stage from the 10th spot and scored in the 12th position when a two-truck accident slowed the field with 20 laps remaining.
  • After avoiding a three-truck wreck in front of him on lap 137, he advanced into the top 10 once again. Gragson maintained the eighth position as another caution occurred two laps later setting up NASCAR overtime and then gained two spots over the final two laps to bring home a hard-fought sixth-place finish.

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Steven B. Wilson

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