Noah Gragson and the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team started the Round of 6 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Playoffs with a solid points' day as they try to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. Gragson started from the third position and earned runner-up finishes in the opening two stages before ending the race in the seventh position.
With the 48 points they earned at Martinsville, the No. 18 team heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth next Friday second on the NCWTS Playoff grid, 24 points above the cutoff line for advancing to Championship 4.
Stage One Recap:
- After Friday's practice sessions were washed out, Gragson took to the 0.526-mile oval for the first time in the opening round of knockout qualifying on Saturday morning. The 20-year-old-driver progressively improved with each round of qualifying, finishing 10th in Round One, seventh in Round Two and third in the Final Round.
- The defending winner of the event communicated that his Tundra was "tight in the center" in the early stages of the race as he fell back to the sixth spot on lap 31, before making his way back towards the front of the field.
- When the first caution of the race occurred on lap 36, he was scored in the fourth spot. Four of the top five trucks elected to hit pit road when it opened, allowing Gragson to advance up to the second position when the field went back green on lap 43. He would maintain the runner-up spot when Stage One ended on lap 50 and earned nine points.
Stage Two Recap:
- With track position being so important at the challenging short track, crew chief Rudy Fugle elected to keep his driver on the track for the start of Stage Two.
- Stage Two went green on lap 60 and jus two laps later was slowed for a one-truck spin. Once the field went back green it would proceed caution free until the end of Stage Two at lap 60 with Gragson maintaining the runner-up position for the entirety of the stage.
Final Stage Recap:
- When pit road opened, Gragson brought the Safelite Tundra to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with a chassis adjustment to try and improve the handling. He returned to the track scored in the eighth position when the Final stage went green on lap 111.
- Caught on the outside lane, the 20-year-old driver subsided to the 11th position before finding a hole on the inside lane. Gragson reported that the chassis adjustment didn't help the handling of his Toyota when a one-truck accident slowed the field on lap 153.
- The field went back green on lap 159 with Gragson scored 10th and he would remain there one lap later when the sixth caution of the event occurred.
- With 25 laps remaining, the talented youngster remained 10th but he was able to gain three positions in the closing laps to bring home a seventh-place finish. It was his 14th top-10 finish across 19 starts this season.