With the boundless exuberance of a driver who had just won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series Race, Noah Gragson climbed the catch fence on the frontstretch at Daytona International Speedway after taking the checkered flag in last Saturday’s NASCAR Racing Experience 300.
As he got halfway up the overhanging fence, discretion suddenly became the better part of valor.
“Normal fences at these race tracks are pretty much straight up and down, but that one was inverted, so it was like leaning over the track,” Gragson said on Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, venue for Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “I was climbing up there, and I was like, ‘Man, if I fall, that’s going to suck, that’s going to be terrible, that’s going to hurt.
“’Cause you’re pretty high up there. It’s taller than any of the other fences, and the banking’s going down, so if you fall, it would have hurt pretty bad. I was a little worn out. I wrapped my hand inside the fence, trying to make sure I didn’t fall. I was like, ‘Man, I don’t need to get much higher. This is good for right now.’”
The five factory Toyota entries—the Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones as well as the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing entry of Christopher Bell—all drew 15-minute holds for first practice at Las Vegas. The infractions that led to the penalties, discovered during opening inspection, involved applying bondo to the front fenders to change the shape from the manufacturer’s specifications and improve the aerodynamics of the cars…
Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson led final practice for Sunday’s Pennzoil with a lap at 179.431 mph. He was followed by five Fords, including the No. 6 of Ross Chastain (sixth fastest), subbing for injured Ryan Newman. Chastain also led final NASCAR Xfinity Series practice in the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Aric Almirola topped the speed chart in opening Cup practice with a lap at 174.654 mph.