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Phoenix Final Four Field Set In Xfinity Series

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 31 2021

Noah Gragson celebrates Xfinity win in Martinsville on Saturday night. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Knowledge can be both comforting and frustrating as it was for NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric in Saturday night’s Dead On Tools 250 at Martinsville Speedway.

Gragson knew he had to win on the tough short track to advance to the championship round next weekend at Phoenix. Hemric knew if Gragson won he had to finish ahead of Justin Allgaier if he was to contend for the 2021 title. The only two drivers who secured a position in the final four before the event ended were regular season champion A.J. Allmendinger and the series defending title holder Austin Cindric. 

Throughout the race, those in the championship round fluctuated as Gragson led six times for 153 laps and Hemric set the pace on one occasion for 18 laps. With 10 laps remaining in the scheduled 250-lap event, Hemric led Gragson by 0.671 second. But with six laps remaining Justin Haley spun and sent the race into overtime.

“When it (yellow flag) came out it wasn’t surprising,” Hemric said. “The last five or 10 laps leading to that it’s about taking care of yourself in case that happens.”  

When it came time to choose for the restart, many believed Gragson would take the inside lane behind Hemric and then muscle him out of the way on the restart. However, Gragson chose the outside after his crew chief Dave Elenz told him “winners take the front row.” Gragson took the outside lane and on the restart cleanly drove around Hemric and into the lead on lap 250.

“When you have the opportunity to start on the front row it’s the opportunity to go win the race, to get the lead,” Gragson said. “When you’re behind in the second row, you can move them, but there’s more of a chance to get the lead from the front row.”

 Another yellow flag waved on lap 251 and Hemric was forced to race in a manner uncharacteristic for him. The Kannapolis, N.C., native had to race for points instead of the victory and that was more disappointing to him than his third-place finish.

“The racer in me wanted to line up on the top, but internally as a race team we had to make the decision and we all voted we had to go to the bottom,” Hemric said. “I don’t want to lose any more than the next guy. On the flip side, I know there’s a bigger picture to all of this. 

“I’ve never points raced. I’ve never one time in my life worried about points, looked at points, cared about points. That last decision (which lane to choose on the restart) was a complete points racing decision that I hated having to make. Having the opportunity to race next week (for a championship) was the biggest goal and we have a shot at that.” 

  On the last restart, Cindric snatched second and it appeared he might be Gragson’s spoiler and Allgaier’s salvation. On the final lap, Cindric dove under the Las Vegas native in turn three. They raced side-by-side through turn four before Gragson inched ahead to snare a 0.064-second victory and a chance to race for the series championship.


NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 2nd Annual Dead On Tools 250

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Saturday, October 30, 2021

  1. (9)  Noah Gragson (P), Chevrolet, 257.
  2. (1)  Austin Cindric (P), Ford, 257.
  3. (7)  Daniel Hemric (P), Toyota, 257.
  4. (11)  Sam Mayer #, Chevrolet, 257.
  5. (5)  Justin Allgaier (P), Chevrolet, 257.
  6. (8)  Brandon Jones (P), Toyota, 257.
  7. (3)  AJ Allmendinger (P), Chevrolet, 257.
  8. (25)  Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 257.
  9. (18)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 257.
  10. (16)  Riley Herbst, Ford, 257.
  11. (22)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 257.
  12. (23)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 257.
  13. (12)  Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 257.
  14. (30)  Colin Garrett, Toyota, 257.
  15. (32)  Joe Graf Jr., Chevrolet, 257.
  16. (28)  JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 257.
  17. (31)  Jade Buford #, Chevrolet, 257.
  18. (38)  Preston Pardus, Chevrolet, 257.
  19. (13)  Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 257.
  20. (10)  Harrison Burton (P), Toyota, 257.
  21. (37)  Stephen Leicht, Toyota, 257.
  22. (27)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 257.
  23. (34)  Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 257.
  24. (36)  David Starr, Toyota, 257.
  25. (26)  Natalie Decker, Chevrolet, 257.
  26. (33)  Akinori Ogata(i), Toyota, 257.
  27. (2)  Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 257.
  28. (29)  Josh Berry #, Chevrolet, 256.
  29. (35)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 255.
  30. (39)  Spencer Boyd(i), Chevrolet, 254.
  31. (14)  Ryan Sieg, Ford, 253.
  32. (21)  Ryan Vargas #, Chevrolet, 249.
  33. (4)  Justin Haley (P), Chevrolet, Brakes, 222.
  34. (24)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 221.
  35. (20)  Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 212.
  36. (17)  Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, Accident, 204.
  37. (15)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, Accident, 194.
  38. (6)  Michael Annett, Chevrolet, Accident, 192.
  39. (40)  Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, Overheating, 38.
  40. (19)  Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 36.


Average Speed of Race Winner:  62.01 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 10 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.064 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  13 for 75 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Cindric (P) 1-64;N. Gragson (P) 65-124;H. Burton (P) 125;N. Gragson (P) 126-130;H. Burton (P) 131;N. Gragson (P) 132-179;T. Gibbs # 180;S. Boyd(i) 181-184;T. Gibbs # 185-191;N. Gragson (P) 192;T. Gibbs # 193-200;N. Gragson (P) 201-231;D. Hemric (P) 232-249;N. Gragson (P) 250-257.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Noah Gragson (P) 6 times for 153 laps; Austin Cindric (P) 1 time for 64 laps; Daniel Hemric (P) 1 time for 18 laps; Ty Gibbs # 3 times for 16 laps; Spencer Boyd(i) 1 time for 4 laps; Harrison Burton (P) 2 times for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,18,7,16,31,39,9,1,17,02

Stage #2 Top Ten: 9,20,54,10,22,18,16,98,51,2



| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 31 2021
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