Date: Feb. 16, 2018
Event: NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Race 1 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile tri-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 20 laps/20 laps/60 laps
Start/Finish: 5th / 23rd (Running, completed 79 of 100 laps)
Winner: Johnny Sauter of GMS Racing (Chevrolet
Noah Gragson and the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass® team had an eventful start to their 2018 season at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Friday night. After qualifying fifth for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 they were able to lead one lap before getting collected in two different accidents just past the halfway mark and ultimately ended the night in the garage with a disappointing 23rd-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Gragson started from the fifth position and held his place on the yellow line for all 20 laps in Stage One. With the racing being two-wide throughout the field, the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass would be scored in the ninth position when the field took the green and white checkered flag at the completion of Stage One.
Stage Two Recap:
- When pit road opened, crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for a fuel-only stop. Gragson returned to the track scored in the third position when Stage Two went green on lap 25.
- One lap later, the Las Vegas native maneuvered his way to the front of the field and following the advice of his spotter was jostling between lines trying to remain out front. While Gragson was moving towards the top lane, veteran Johnny Sauter was able to wedge himself into the bottom lane and the No. 18 Tundra went shuffling backwards.
- On lap 28, Gragson found himself in the 12th position and would fall back as far as the 16th spot before he began to move forward again.
- The Safelite Tundra would end Stage Two in the 14th position.
Final Stage Recap:
- The NASCAR Next alum brought his Toyota to the attention of his over-the-wall crew who replaced the right-side tires and filled it with fuel. Gragson would take the lap-46 restart from the 11th position.
- He was running in the 10th spot on lap 55 when an accident ensued in front of him. As he was trying to make it through the middle of the fracas, he got sandwiched between two other trucks and sustained damage to both front fenders of the Safelite Tundra.
- When pit road opened, the over-the-wall crew went to work restructuring the fenders in order to make clearance for the four fresh tires they would be putting on. After the repairs were complete, Gragson returned to the track scored in the 28th position for the lap-61 restart.
- Just two laps later, a truck spun in front of Gragson and as he maneuvered to miss his competitor made contact with the outside wall. The Safelite Tundra returned to pit road for lengthy damage repair to the right side and would lose two laps in the process before rejoining the field.
- The 19-year-old would ride around the back of the field during the next green-flag run and was able to avoid “The Big One,” which occurred on lap 73. Fugle used the caution period to make more repairs to the No. 18 Toyota, but once the field went back green the issues continued and Gragson would be forced to pull behind the wall.
- The Safelite Racing team would be credited with a 23rd-place finish after completing 79 of 100 laps.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Talk about your eventful race.
“In Daytona, a lot of the luck is not in the drivers’ hands — it is what it is. We qualified really good — Rudy Fugle and the guys on this No. 18 team built a really fast Safelite AutoGlass/Switch Toyota Tundra during the offseason. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be driving for this team. This is not the way we wanted to start our season, but we can go to Atlanta next week with our heads held high that we had a lot of speed and I’m confident that we’ll have speed again next weekend in our first mile-and-a-half race of the year.”
NextEra Energy Resources 250 Recap:
Johnny Sauter collected his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and the 18th of his career. Justin Haley finished in the runner-up position, 0.098 seconds behind Sauter. Joe Nemechek finished third, while Ben Rhodes and Scott Lagasse Jr. rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured seven cautions for a total of 35 laps. There were 21 lead changes among 10 drivers. Gragson led once for one lap, while his KBM teammate David Gilliland led six times for 30 laps.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Spencer Davis, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished seventh
- David Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 21st
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Gragson leaves race one of the 2018 season ranked 24th in the championship standings.
Gragson will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Feb. 25 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. Live coverage of the Active Pest Control 200 begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1.