Late-Race Caution Spoils Las Vegas Native’s Bid for the Victory
Date: Nov. 9, 2018
Event: Lucas Oil 150 (Race 22 of 23, Race 3 of the Round of 6)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. (one-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 45 laps/45 laps/60 laps
Start/Finish: 1st/2nd (Running, completed 150 of 150 laps)
Winner: Brett Moffitt of Hattori Racing Enterprises (Toyota)
Noah Gragson captured the pole, led 43 laps and had over a two-second lead with seven laps remaining in Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway when a one-truck spin brought out the caution and setup a three-lap shootout to the finish.
Gragson, who chose the outside lane for the restart, got moved up the track as the field headed into Turn One by Grant Enfinger, who was in must-win situation to advance, which allowed Brett Moffitt to maneuver to the inside of the top two into the lead down the backstretch. Moffitt would go on to take the victory, while Gragson would cross the stripe second and secured his spot in the Championship 4 by finishing 27 points ahead of Enfinger in the Round of 6.
Gragson, Moffitt, Johnny Sauter and Justin Haley will compete for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship next Friday night at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, with the top finisher among the four taking home the title.
Stage One Recap:
- Gragson earned the pole in qualifying and rocketed out to an early lead once the green flag dropped. When the first caution of the race occurred on lap 28, the Las Vegas native had opened up over a four-second lead.
- Shortly after going back green on lap 32, Moffitt was able to work his way around Gragson and would remain out front when Stage One ended on lap 45. Gragson would finish second and earn nine points.
Stage Two Recap:
- Before hitting pit road for the first time of the event, Gragson communicated to crew chief Rudy Fugle that he “needed more front turn.” As the 20-year-old driver entered his pit stall, the brakes locked up and he slid through the box outside the boundary line. The over-the-wall crew had to push him back into the box before administering their four-tire and fuel stop. Due to the slow stop, the Safelite Tundra would be scored in 20th position when the field went green on lap 52 to start Stage Two.
- With a fast Toyota, Gragson was able to maneuver his way back into the top 10 rather quickly. He made it back into the top 10 just five laps later, but with passing at a premium, he would stall out once he reached the eighth position and earn just two points in Stage Two.
Final Stage Recap:
- When pit road opened, Gragson brought the Safelite Tundra to pit road for another four-tire and fuel stop. A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew positioned their driver in the fifth spot when the Final Stage went green on lap 99.
- The talented youngster was able to gain one spot on the restart and then two laps later moved up to the third spot, where he was scored when Joe Hunter Nemechek spun while leading and brought out the fourth caution of the night on lap 128.
- Nemechek’s spin gave Enfinger the lead and momentarily knocked Gragson out of the fourth and final spot for the Championship 4. While under caution a truck spilled oil all over the track and put the field under red-flag conditions.
- Once the track was ready, Gragson lined up outside of Enfinger with his chance to compete for a title on the line and 15 laps remaining to work his way around him.
- Enfinger spun his tires momentarily and Gragson shot out of a cannon through Turn Four down the backstretch. By the time they crossed the stripe, the Safelite Tundra was out front by nearly a second.
- Gragson continued to distance himself from Enfinger and the rest of the field as the race approached the closing laps. He had just over a two-second lead when Riley Herbst spun and brought out the caution with seven laps remaining.
- The field went back green with three laps remaining and while Gragson and Enfinger were leaning on each other, Moffitt snuck underneath them in what proved to be the race-winning move.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What happened on the final restart?
“I just got run up the hill in turns one and two on the restart and it was just hard racing honestly. Beating and banging, that’s what ISM Raceway is all about. Main focus was to get to next weekend in Homestead and obviously I wanted this win, led a lot of laps early in the race and slid through my pit box and had to restart in the back — just a mistake on my part. We’re on to the next round and that’s what we came here to do obviously. Can’t thank all the Safelite AutoGlass KBM guys — they worked their tails off on this Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra and I’m so thankful. Just a heartbreak, I thought we had it before that caution. It is what it is, we move onto next weekend and I’ll take second and try to win the next one.”
Lucas Oil 150 Recap:
- Moffitt punched his ticket to the Championship 4 with his sixth victory of the season. Gragson finished in the runner-up position 0.446 seconds behind Moffitt. Gragson’s KBM teammate Harrison Burton finished third, while Enfinger and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured five cautions for a total of 33 laps. There were eight lead changes among six drivers. Gragson led twice for 43 laps and continues to pace the Truck Series with 591 laps led this season.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished third
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 46 Toyota, finished ninth
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 17th
NCWTS Championship Standings:
Gragson leaves the final race of the Round of 6 fourth on the NCWTS Playoff grid, 27 points above the cutoff line and advances to the Championship 4 next Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series crowns its champion Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Live coverage of the race begins Friday at 8 p.m. on FS1.