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Gragson Rolls To Fourth Straight

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 25 2022

Noah Gragson wins Xfinity race at TMS on Saturday. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, Texas _ Championship contender Noah Gragson tied Sam Ard’s 40-year-old NASCAR Xfinity Series record by scoring his fourth consecutive victory Saturday afternoon in the 18th annual Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Gragson’s win in the 2022 Xfinity Playoff opener for JR Motorsports and team-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. punched a ticket into the Round of 8.

Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro, finished 1.238-seconds in front of fellow-Playoff contender Austin Hill and his No. 21 Chevy. Only eight of 38 starters completed a 200-lapper marred by two major crashes and nine cautions for 52 laps.

Gragson, who previously won at Darlington Raceway, Kansas Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway, tied the mark established by Ard in 1983. The win was Gragson’s series-leading seventh this season and 12th of his career. It also was his first Xfinity Series victory on TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile oval in eight career starts.

“This No. 9 team, man, they’re on fire and all you fans, you keep us motivated,’’ said Gragson, addressing the crowd cheering him from the front stretch grandstands as he sat atop the roof of his car. “We’re going to come back and win more races for you. You guys are awesome, and we appreciate you. Thanks for coming out.

“This team, I mean the pit crew’s done awesome and our car was as fast as Xfinity internet all day, I’m just so thankful for the opportunity.

“Such a relief. We lost this race back in 2020 and just executed a great race (today).’’

Gragson did not win a stage but led a race-high 85 of 200 laps en route to holding off fellow 2022 Playoff contenders Hill and Ty Gibbs, driver of the No. 54 Toyota Supra. Playoff contender AJ Allmendinger finished fourth after leading a total of 34 laps in the No. 16 Camaro fielded by Kaulig Racing.

Gragson exited Texas with a 26-point lead over Allmendinger and 27-point pad over 19-year-old Gibbs.

Eight Playoff contenders finished in the top-10. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst was fifth, followed by Josh Berry (JR Motorsports), Sheldon Creed, Playoff drivers Sam Mayer (JR Motorsports) and Ryan Sieg (Ryan Sieg Racing). C.J. McLaughlin was 10th_ the first top-10 of his career.

Daniel Hemric and Allmendinger _ Playoff contenders and Kaulig Racing teammates _ won Stage 1 and Stage 2, respectively, but restart incidents early in the final stage proved pivotal. Allmendinger was involved in an eight-car incident in Turn 3 on Lap 111 but rallied for a top-five finish.

Seven laps later, Hemric was swept up in a nine-car accident along the backstretch that also collected Playoff competitors Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports and pole-sitter Brandon Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing. All three exited the race with Jones finishing 27th, Allgaier 29th and Hemric 30th.

Gragson, a 24-year-old native of Las Vegas, took control during Stage 3, leading 63 of the first 65 laps before making his final pit stop on Lap 155. Allmendinger stayed out and led 27 of the next 28 laps before being forced to pit for fuel. Jeb Burton, also low on fuel, inherited the lead with 16 to go but Gragson ran him down and led the final 12 laps to earn the win.

The three-race Playoff segment moves next to Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Oct. 1 and then to the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL on Oct. 8.

Brad Keselowski earned his first Cup pole of the season _ and first since 2019 _ during qualifying Saturday for this afternoon’s 18th annual AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500.

Keselowski, driver of the No. 6 ROUSHParts.com Ford Mustang, toured TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile oval in 28.573-seconds and 188.990 mph. The 2012 Cup champion while driving for Team Penske, Keselowski will start today’s the Round of 12 Playoffs opener alongside former Penske teammate Joey Logano after his lap at 188.805 mph in the No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford.

“That was a heckuva lap,” said Keselowski, who is in his first season as co-owner of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing. “I was proud to show my speed and be starting on the front row on-pole. This is a tough track to qualify at because the speeds are so high and the track is so slick and hot. We were able to put a lap together. (Turn) 3 and 4 was one of those gutsy laps where you hold it wide open through there and hope it sticks. It was really close but we made it through. That was probably the difference-maker.

“Credit to Matt McCall, the crew chief of the team here who worked on the car.”

Keselowski’s pole served as a fitting encore to the victory scored by RFK teammate and native Texan Chris Buescher last Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“It’s a super-exciting time for me and for our company here at RFK with a lot of the progress we have made over the last few months, and now it’s actually starting to show up,” Keselowski said. “It has been a painful journey, but a good one.

“Yeah, it has been a whirlwind with winning at Bristol with Chris and running up-front and having some good moments there. Then we were really busy with testing in Miami and trying to get better as a whole. It’s just a lot of things happening in all directions both personally and professionally with this business and my other business and with our foundation. Everything is wide open in every direction. Sometimes it’s hard to stop and reflect on how privileged and blessed I am to be in this position, but a good time nonetheless.”

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1995) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service, Ford Racing and Used Car Dealer magazine).


NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 18th Annual Andy’s Frozen Custard 300

Texas Motor Speedway

Fort Worth, Texas

Saturday, September 24, 2022

  1. (2)  Noah Gragson (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  2. (9)  Austin Hill # (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  3. (8)  Ty Gibbs (P), Toyota, 200.
  4. (7)  AJ Allmendinger (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  5. (11)  Riley Herbst (P), Ford, 200.
  6. (16)  Josh Berry (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  7. (13)  Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, 200.
  8. (5)  Sam Mayer (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  9. (14)  Ryan Sieg (P), Ford, 199.
  10. (35)  CJ McLaughlin, Ford, 199.
  11. (20)  Nicholas Sanchez, Chevrolet, 199.
  12. (18)  Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 199.
  13. (24)  Stefan Parsons(i), Chevrolet, 199.
  14. (29)  Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 199.
  15. (17)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 199.
  16. (32)  Matt Mills(i), Chevrolet, 198.
  17. (26)  Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 197.
  18. (19)  Joe Graf Jr, Ford, 197.
  19. (25)  Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 197.
  20. (31)  Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 196.
  21. (23)  Parker Retzlaff, Chevrolet, 190.
  22. (15)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, Accident, 141.
  23. (37)  Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, DVP, 132.
  24. (22)  Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, Accident, 131.
  25. (36)  Joey Gase, Toyota, DVP, 120.
  26. (30)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Accident, 118.
  27. (1)  Brandon Jones (P), Toyota, Accident, 117.
  28. (4)  John Hunter Nemechek(i) (P), Toyota, Accident, 116.
  29. (6)  Justin Allgaier (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 116.
  30. (3)  Daniel Hemric (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 116.
  31. (21)  Brennan Poole(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 116.
  32. (33)  Mason Massey, Chevrolet, Accident, 116.
  33. (12)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Accident, 109.
  34. (28)  JJ Yeley, Ford, Water Pump, 99.
  35. (38)  Akinori Ogata(i), Toyota, Suspension, 99.
  36. (10)  Jeremy Clements (P), Chevrolet, Ignition, 79.
  37. (34)  David Starr, Ford, Accident, 77.
  38. (27)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, Accident, 17.


Average Speed of Race Winner:  113.672 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 38 Mins, 21 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.238 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 52 laps.

Lead Changes:  14 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   B. Jones (P) 0;N. Gragson (P) 1-10;J. Nemechek(i) (P) 11-38;D. Hemric (P) 39-47;J. Nemechek(i) (P) 48-53;T. Gibbs (P) 54-55;J. Nemechek(i) (P) 56-81;T. Gibbs (P) 82;D. Hemric (P) 83-85;A. Allmendinger (P) 86-92;N. Gragson (P) 93-155;A. Hill # (P) 156;A. Allmendinger (P) 157-183;J. Burton 184-188;N. Gragson (P) 189-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Noah Gragson (P) 3 times for 85 laps; John Hunter Nemechek(i) (P) 3 times for 60 laps; AJ Allmendinger (P) 2 times for 34 laps; Daniel Hemric (P) 2 times for 12 laps; Jeb Burton 1 time for 5 laps; Ty Gibbs (P) 2 times for 3 laps; Austin Hill # (P) 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,7,21,9,16,8,18,39,54,34

Stage #2 Top Ten: 16,9,18,11,54,21,7,39,19,1


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 25 2022
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