Date: May 18, 2018
Event: N.C. Education Lottery 200 (Race 7 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile quad-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 30 laps/30 laps/74 laps
Start/Finish: 2nd/8th (Running, completed 134 of 134 laps)
Winner: Johnny Sauter of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Noah Gragson put his Safelite AutoGlass Tundra in a position to win Friday night’s N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway but spun his tires on a restart with 17 laps to go and consequently nearly got wrecked from behind. By the time Gragson was able to recover and get back going in the right direction, he had subsided several positions and had to fight back in the closing laps to bring home an eighth-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- After Friday afternoon’s qualifying session was rained out, Gragson started from the second position based on the NASCAR Truck Series owner’s point standings.
- After racing side-by-side with Johnny Sauter for the first two laps, Gragson narrowly edged Sauter to the stripe on lap 3, but then settled back into the runner-up spot a lap later.
- The Safelite Tundra would make its way back the front on lap 10 and remained there when the first caution of the night occurred on lap 21. Sauter elected to remain on track, but Gragson was summoned to pit road when it opened. After getting four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel the Las Vegas native returned to the track, but shortly after was notified that he had incurred a pit road speeding penalty and would have to restart from the back of the field.
- Over the final four laps of Stage 1 the No. 18 team was able to gain several positions and crossed the stripe in the 14th spot.
Stage Two Recap:
- Having pitted late in Stage 1, crew chief Rudy Fugle elected to remain on track when pit road opened. The Safelite Tundra was scored in the 12th spot when Stage Two went green on lap 37.
- Ten laps later the talented teenager had maneuvered his was up to the sixth spot, but the handling went away and he ended up finishing Stage Two in the 10th position.
Final Stage Recap:
- The NASCAR Next alum brought his Toyota to the attention of his over-the-wall crew, who administered a four-tire and fuel stop with a major trackbar adjustment before returning Gragson to the track scored in the fourth position.
- The Final Stage went green on lap 67 and when a caution flew 13 laps later, Gragson had moved up to the second spot.
- When pit road opened, Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for four fresh tires and chassis adjustment to try and make the Safelite Tundra turn better.
- Gragson was scored in the seventh spot for the lap-81 restart and began to methodically move forward. He maneuvered into the runner-up position with 34 laps to go and remained there when a debris caution slowed the field with 21 laps remaining.
- After a five-truck incident slowed the field two laps later, Gragson was scored in the second position for the lap-117 restart. The tires on the Safelite Tundra spun and with Busch trying to give a push to help propel Gragson forward on the restart made contact and turned it towards the infield. After Gragson got the truck corrected he found himself in the 11th spot but gained back three spots in the closing laps to bring home his fourth top-10 finish of 2018.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Talk about how your race went tonight.
“It was another race that we led laps in our Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra. That second to last restart, just spun the tires a little bit and Kyle was pushing me and I got turned to the left and almost wrecked. Unfortunate that we got shuffled back, but we rebounded to eighth. I’m just disappointed that I spun the tires there, but that’s part of racing I guess. It could be worse — we’ll move on. I’m headed to Canada in the morning to race in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Sunday and look forward to having more run there.”
N.C. Education Lottery 200 Recap:
- Johnny Sauter collected his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and the 20th of his career. KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch finished 1.340 seconds behind Sauter in the runner-up position and Brandon Jones finished third in the fourth KBM entry. Brett Moffitt and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured seven cautions for a total of 36 laps. There were 11 lead changes among five drivers. Gragson led twice for 13 laps. He has led at least one lap in six of the seven events this season.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished second
- Brandon Jones, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished third
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 10th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Gragson maintained the second position in the NCWTS Driver Championship standings. After seven races the 19-year-old driver is 59 tallies behind championship leader Johnny Sauter. Gragson has earned 10 playoff points this season.
Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Live coverage of the Rattlesnake 400 begins Friday at 9 p.m. ET on FS1.