Gragson Overcomes Early Troubles to Finish 10th at Texas

Gragson Overcomes Early Troubles to Finish 10th at Texas NK Photography Photo
A miscue by the fuel handler at the start of Stage 2 left Noah Gragson at the tail end of the field and subsequently led to the Safelite AutoGlass Tundra getting caught up in an eight-truck accident on lap-41. After making repairs to the right-side damage, the No. 18 team was able to salvage a 10th-place finish and now sit fourth on the NCWTS Playoff grid, 18 points above the cutoff line for advancing to Championship 4 with one race remaining in the Round of 6.
 
Stage One Recap: 
  • Gragson qualified second for the 147-lap event and maintained that position for the first half of Stage One.
  • After a lap-18 restart, the 20-year-old driver fell back two spots to fourth position and after a lap-24 restart lost two more positions. He would end Stage One in the sixth position and communicated to crew chief Rudy Fugle that his Safelite Tundra was "free in and tight on exit." 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • With track position being so important at the one-groove track, Fugle called for a fuel-only stop in an effort to put his driver near the front of the field went Stage Two went green. Unfortunately, the fuel handler had trouble engaging the fuel can and slowed the stop. After seeing the trouble, Fugle audibled to a four-tire stop and Gragson returned to the track scored in the 23rd position when Stage Two went green on lap 40.
  • Shortly after going green an accident occurred mid-pack and the Safelite Tundra sustained moderate right-side damage. When pit road opened, Gragson brought his truck to the attention of the over-the-wall crew who went to work repairing the damage and making sure the wheel wells had adequate clearance. After a second stop to put four fresh tires on, the Las Vegas native would restart from the 21st position on lap 49.
  • After going green, the damage repair was successful and Gragson began turning laps faster than the leader as he began to make his way back towards the front of the field.
  • He had advanced to the 17th position when the sixth caution of the night occurred with 10 laps remaining in the stage. When six competitors hit pit road, he moved up to the 11th position for the lap-63 restart.
  • With four laps remaining he worked his way up to the ninth spot, but fell back to 11th before the field crossed the stripe to end Stage Two on lap 70 and was not able to earn any stage points. 
Final Stage Recap: 
  • When pit road opened, Gragson brought the Safelite Tundra to pit road for a right-side tire and fuel stop. With a handful of teams not pitting, the No. 18 returned to the track scored in the 10th position when the Final stage went green on lap 74.
  • Gragson was able to advance up to the eighth spot momentarily and was running ninth when green-flag stops started on lap 115. He gave up the fourth position on lap 122 to hit pit road for fresh right-side tires and fuel.
  • He returned to the track scored 10th when stops cycled through and would remain there when the field crossed the finish line.
  • Gragson's bad luck continued when his KBM teammate Todd Gilliland ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap and allowed playoff contender Justin Haley to claim the victory and one of the spots in the Championship 4. 

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Steven B. Wilson

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