Noah Gragson gets quick redemption with NASCAR Truck Series victory at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, KS - MAY 11: Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – There are times when redemption is swift and merciful.

A week after throwing away a chance to win at Dover with a wreck of his own making, Noah Gragson scored his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of the season, beating his car owner, Kyle Busch, to the finish line in the 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway.

Starting from the pole for the second straight race, Gragson led 128 of 167 laps in his No. 18 Toyota, swept all the stages of the event and collected the second NCWTS victory of his career.

“This is such a relief for a driver who had a hard week last week battling for the win,” said Gragson, who was running side by side with Johnny Sauter at Dover when he lost control of his truck and backed into the outside wall. “We came back strong this weekend. Two consecutive poles. We led the most laps today.

“Man, this is a pretty damn cool moment.”

After passing Busch and third-place finisher Stewart Friesen on Lap 157—thanks to a four-tire call by crew chief Rudy Fugle during a green-flag pit stop on lap 134—Gragson took the lead for good when Myatt Snider ran out of gas with five laps left.

Snider was one of five drivers trying to stretch fuel to the end of the race. One by one they fell by the wayside, but not before muddying the waters in the closing laps.

“After the pit stop, I thought I was going to be the leader, but they told me that (fifth-place finisher) Johnny (Sauter) was stretching it on fuel,” Gragson said. “So I said, ‘OK, maybe I’m running second.’ Then they said the 52 (Friesen) and the 4 (Busch) are a half a lap ahead of you.

“And I thought that was for the lead when I passed the 4 and I passed the 52, and then they said the 13 (Snider) was the leader. And I said, ‘Dang, how many leaders are there going to be?”

As it turned out Snider was the last one, and Gragson had come full circle from his mistake at Dover.

John Hunter Nemechek came home fourth, followed by Sauter and Matt Crafton. Cody Coughlin, Grant Enfinger, Brandon Jones and Justin Haley completed the top 10.

With 23 laps left, Friesen forced Busch down to the infield grass in the tri-oval, costing Busch a chance to pass the No. 52 Chevrolet and put distance between himself and Gragson.

Busch had taken right-side tires only on his green-flag stop on Lap 139, and Gragson methodically caught his car owner, making what proved to be the winning pass with 10 laps left.

“The truck felt good after about 15 laps, but it took too long to come in,” Busch said. “And there on that last run, we didn’t make enough adjustments. We took two tires and we got way too tight.

“But awesome run by Noah and those guys. They deserve it—they’re fast. They needed a boost and they got one. They’re going to race for a championship, and hopefully this will help them get going.”

Sauter retained the series lead by 35 points over Gragson.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race Results 37 Kind Days 250
Kansas Speedway
Kansas City, Kansas
Friday, May 11, 2018

1. (1) Noah Gragson, Toyota, 167.
2. (6) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 167.
3. (8) Stewart Friesen, Chevrolet, 167.
4. (14) John Hunter Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 167.
5. (5) Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 167.
6. (3) Matt Crafton, Ford, 167.
7. (2) Cody Coughlin, Chevrolet, 167.
8. (4) Grant Enfinger, Ford, 167.
9. (13) Brandon Jones(i), Toyota, 167.
10. (12) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 166.
11. (11) Dalton Sargeant #, Chevrolet, 165.
12. (9) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 165.
13. (19) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 164.
14. (15) Darrell Wallace Jr. (i), Chevrolet, 164.
15. (32) Myatt Snider #, Ford, 164.
16. (10) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 163.
17. (17) Justin Fontaine #, Chevrolet, 163.
18. (7) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 162.
19. (16) Bo LeMastus #, Toyota, 160.
20. (31) Kyle Donahue, Chevrolet, 159.
21. (25) Josh Reaume, Toyota, 158.
22. (29) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 157.
23. (28) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 157.
24. (30) Mike Harmon(i), Chevrolet, Oil Leak, 146.
25. (21) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 139.
26. (27) Robby Lyons, Chevrolet, 139.
27. (18) Wendell Chavous, Chevrolet, Suspension, 131.
28. (26) Jamie Mosley, Chevrolet, Overheating, 66.
29. (24) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, Transmission, 30.
30. (22) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, Overheating, 27.
31. (23) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 6.
32. (20) Kevin Donahue, Chevrolet, Transmission, 0.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  134.137 mph.
Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 52 Mins, 03 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.558 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  4 for 21 laps.
Lead Changes:  13 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   N. Gragson 0; M. Crafton 1-4; N. Gragson 5-48; B. Rhodes 49; N. Gragson 50-83; J. Haley 84-87; N. Gragson 88-104; S. Friesen 105-106; N. Gragson 107-133; S. Friesen 134-137; K. Busch(i) 138; J. Sauter 139-152; M. Snider # 153-161; N. Gragson 162-167.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  N. Gragson 5 times for 128 laps; J. Sauter 1 time for 14 laps; M. Snider # 1 time for 9 laps; S. Friesen 2 times for 6 laps; M. Crafton 1 time for 4 laps; J. Haley 1 time for 4 laps; K. Busch(i) 1 time for 1 lap; B. Rhodes 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,4,16,41,98,8,51,88,21,52
Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,16,4,51,52,8,98,21,88,2

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.