Noah Gragson earned his spot in the next round of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, but it’s the record he set that will stand the test of time.
Gragson parked his JR Motorsports Chevrolet in victory lane for the fourth time in a row in Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300, tying a nearly four-decade-old record in the Xfinity Series. The last driver to pull off such a feat was Sam Ard back in 1983.
Gragson led a race-high 85 of 200 laps, but wasn’t always at the front. Off-sequence pit strategy left him climbing through the field and he didn’t win a stage. Still, he was in position to capitalize at the end, finishing 1.238 seconds ahead of Austin Hill.
“This number 9 team, man, they’re on fire – and all you fans, you keep us motivated,’” Gragson told the crowd. “We’re gonna come back and win more races for you. You guys are awesome and we appreciate you. Thanks for coming out.”
“Just this team, I mean the pit crew’s done awesome,” he said. “Just executed a great race. And our car was as fast as Xfinity internet all day and I’m just so thankful for the opportunity.”
Runner-up Austin Hill was less happy getting out of his car, feeling like he could have won the race.
“We were faster than the 9,” Hill said. “Just got too tight there at the end. I’m sure I could have done a better job coming to that green flag pit stop, felt like I gave a little up there.”
“It’s nice to start the Playoffs like this, to start it off right, but at the same time we know that, if we’d have won the race, we wouldn’t have to worry about Talladega or the Roval, so a little frustrated.”
Ty Gibbs challenged for the lead all day but didn’t have the speed to pass Gragson at the end. He said the adjustments his team made over the race didn’t help his car.
“Honestly, we were just a little tight coming through there,” Gibbs said. “We fired off really, really free and it set the tone for the rest. They adjusted for what I asked for, but I asked for a little too much so it’s my fault.”
“I was just trying to give it my all, and I just got a little wide and I just missed it up the cushion a little bit. This Supra was fast, just got to find a little bit more speed. Getting loose there really hurt me, so it is what it is.”
Playoff contenders AJ Allmendinger and Riley Herbst rounded out the top five. Allmendinger recovered from being involved in a crash in the opening laps of Stage 2.
“Focus was a tough factor all weekend, Herbst said. “I think today comes down to what we’ve been preaching all year – consistency. Coming out of Texas with a top-five is good and we’ll go to battle again at Talladega.”
Eight Playoff drivers finished in the Top 10 as well, including Josh Berry, Sheldon Creed, Sam Mayer, and Ryan Seig.
Other Playoff drivers fared worse, though. Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, and Jeremy Clements were all collected in accidents. But coming out of Texas, it’s Riley Herbst (-1), Hemric (-8), Jones (-13) and Clements (-29) all sit below the cutline.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns at Talladega Superspeedway for the second race of the Playoffs, the Sparks 300 on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
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
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