Date: March 2, 2018
Event: Stratosphere 200 (Race 3 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 30 laps/30 laps/74 laps
Start/Finish: 5th/12th (Running, completed 134 of 134 laps)
Winner: Kyle Busch of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)
Noah Gragson won the First Stage of Friday night’s Stratosphere 200 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway and after green-flag pit stops cycled through late in the race found himself scored in the second position behind his owner, Kyle Busch. A late race caution set up a 10-lap crap shoot to the finish, but a tire issue in the closing laps relegated the hometown driver to a disappointing 12th-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Gragson started from the fifth position and quickly moved up to third, where he was running when a one-truck spin slowed the field for the first time on lap 15. Leader Kyle Busch pitted, leaving the Safelite Tundra scored in the second spot when the field went back green on lap 20.
- The Las Vegas native was able to make his way past Stewart Friesen for the lead by the time the field reached the backstretch and would remain out front for the remainder of the stage.
Stage Two Recap:
- When pit road opened, crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for fresh right-side tires and fuel. The Safelite Tundra was scored in the third position when Stage Two went green on lap 36.
- Gragson maintained the third position, but as a seven-truck packed raced for the lead got caught three-wide in the middle lane and fell back to seventh. He was able to regain one position to finish sixth in Stage Two.
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 and returned Gragson to the track in the fifth position.
- Once again, he found himself three-wide on the restart and just one lap later had subsided to the 11th position. The NASCAR Next alum was able to work his way back up to the seventh spot when another competitor made things four-wide and caused Gragson to make inadvertent contact with Justin Haley. Haley ended up spinning and bringing out fourth caution of the race.
- Gragson made a strong run to the outside on the ensuing restart and was able to make his way up to the third position on lap 80.
- He surrendered the third position to hit pit road for a fuel-only stop on lap 113. The call for fuel only, allowed the Safelite Tundra to move up to the second position when pit stops cycled through on lap 118.
- A one-truck spin on lap 119 brought out the fifth and final caution of the event and erased Kyle Busch’s nine-second lead.
- The race went back green with 10 laps remaining, with Gragson next to Busch on the front row. By the time the field got back to the start-finish line, he had fallen back to the seventh spot and shortly after communicated to his crew that he thought he was experiencing an issue with the right rear. The Las Vegas native would lose two more spots in the closing laps and was relegated to a disappointing 12th-place finish.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
How was your race?
“We won that first stage and it’s just frustrating, we need more speed in our Safelite Toyota Tundra. Was just tough on those restarts, need to get better myself. Thankful for the opportunity and I wish I could have done it for my hometown crowd. We need to work on our restarts and I can see how these guys work the air and whatnot. Need to keep working hard and pushing forward. We’re going to Martinsville next which is where I got my first career win, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Stratosphere 200 Recap:
- Kyle Busch collected his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and the 50th of his career. Johnny Sauter finished .0437 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up position. Brett Moffitt finished third, while Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured five cautions for a total of 25 laps. There were 14 lead changes among seven drivers. Gragson led once for 12 laps, while KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch led six times for a race-high 55 laps.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished first
Spencer Davis, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 13th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Gragson maintained the fourth position in the NCWTS Driver Championship standings. After three races the 19-year-old driver is 41 tallies behind championship leader Johnny Sauter. He has earned two playoff points through the first three races of the season.
Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action March 24 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Live coverage of the Alpha Energy Solutions begins Saturday at 2 p.m. ET on FS1.