Noah Gragson sees silver lining in last race with KBM

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2018 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Noah Gragson got his diploma from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday night, but it didn’t come with a championship.

From a restart on Lap 68 of 134, Gragson led 31 straight green-flag laps, battling gamely against Brett Moffitt for the entire stretch. But Moffitt made what proved to be the decisive pass on Lap 99 and went on to win the Ford EcoBoost 200 and the championship.

The race was the last with Kyle Busch Motorsports for Gragson, who will move to the NASCAR Xfinity Series next year in a JR Motorsports Chevrolet. And it was a bittersweet parting for the 20-year-old from Las Vegas.

“We needed to make better adjustments on pit road,” Gragson said after the race. “That’s where it comes down to me. I need to do a better job.

“On the bright side, racing for a championship, I never would have dreamed of that when I started racing six years ago that I’d be in this position. It’s my last truck race with Kyle Busch Motorsports. Man, I wanted to go out on top, but it just wasn’t meant to be…

“It’s just a bummer, but, hey, no bad days, right? We’re going to move on to the next year in the Xfinity Series. I’m pumped up about that, but this one is going to hurt for a while. Just very thankful.”

Greg Engle