Las Vegas Native Finishes Seventh but Collects Second-Most Points
Date: Oct. 27, 2018
Event: Texas Roadhouse 200 (Race 20 of 23, Race 1 of the Round of 6)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (0.526-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 50 laps/50 laps/100 laps
Start/Finish: 3rd/7th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Winner: Johnny Sauter of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Noah Gragson and the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team started the Round of 6 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Playoffs with a solid points’ day as they try to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. Gragson started from the third position and earned runner-up finishes in the opening two stages before ending the race in the seventh position.
With the 48 points they earned at Martinsville, the No. 18 team heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth next Friday second on the NCWTS Playoff grid, 24 points above the cutoff line for advancing to Championship 4.
Stage One Recap:
- After Friday’s practice sessions were washed out, Gragson took to the 0.526-mile oval for the first time in the opening round of knockout qualifying on Saturday morning. The 20-year-old-driver progressively improved with each round of qualifying, finishing 10th in Round One, seventh in Round Two and third in the Final Round.
- The defending winner of the event communicated that his Tundra was “tight in the center” in the early stages of the race as he fell back to the sixth spot on lap 31, before making his way back towards the front of the field.
- When the first caution of the race occurred on lap 36, he was scored in the fourth spot. Four of the top five trucks elected to hit pit road when it opened, allowing Gragson to advance up to the second position when the field went back green on lap 43. He would maintain the runner-up spot when Stage One ended on lap 50 and earned nine points.
Stage Two Recap:
- With track position being so important at the challenging short track, crew chief Rudy Fugle elected to keep his driver on the track for the start of Stage Two.
- Stage Two went green on lap 60 and jus two laps later was slowed for a one-truck spin. Once the field went back green it would proceed caution free until the end of Stage Two at lap 60 with Gragson maintaining the runner-up position for the entirety of the stage.
Final Stage Recap:
- When pit road opened, Gragson brought the Safelite Tundra to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with a chassis adjustment to try and improve the handling. He returned to the track scored in the eighth position when the Final stage went green on lap 111.
- Caught on the outside lane, the 20-year-old driver subsided to the 11th position before finding a hole on the inside lane. Gragson reported that the chassis adjustment didn’t help the handling of his Toyota when a one-truck accident slowed the field on lap 153.
- The field went back green on lap 159 with Gragson scored 10th and he would remain there one lap later when the sixth caution of the event occurred.
- With 25 laps remaining, the talented youngster remained 10th but he was able to gain three positions in the closing laps to bring home a seventh-place finish. It was his 14th top-10 finish across 19 starts this season.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
How was your race today?
“Overall it was a good day for our Safelite Toyota Tundra. We had one goal and that was to gain as many points as possible or obviously win. Pit stops, we got a little behind there and it was almost impossible to pass. Just thankful to be out here racing and I’m happy with the result. With the first two stages, gaining nine points in each is what we needed to do coming here. Moving on to Texas, we have one goal and that’s to collect as many points as possible and go to Homestead and race for a championship.”
Did you intend to work with Johnny Sauter on the restarts?
“Just respect to him (Johnny Sauter) and trying to benefit myself as well. Just trying to think big picture. If I went to the outside of him and raced him hard and pinned him down and jeopardized my chance of getting wrecked or I could have let him go on the top and let him get back in front of me and I felt like that was the safest bet for what our goal for this weekend was. It wasn’t planned before the race, it just was the fact of the matter in the moment. Overall, just a good day for our Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra team and Kyle Busch Motorsports. Just thankful to be out here chasing a championship.”
Did you feel tire wear was not an issue today and is that a problem?
“You saw Myatt (Snider), he took two tires and was able to stay out front. He wasn’t worth talking about in the first two stages in my opinion and he ended up running third. Hats off to them, but just kind of a weird weekend here with no practice. I didn’t know if that was going to be a good thing or a bad thing. Everybody was in the same boat. Overall a good day for Kyle Busch Motorsports, we qualified one-two-three and obviously we would like to run up there at the end, but we did what our goal was.”
Texas Roadhouse 200 Recap:
- Johnny Sauter collected his series leading sixth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and the 23rd of his career. With the win he earns one of the four spots in the NCWTS Championship 4. Brett Moffitt finished in the runner-up position 4.572 seconds behind Sauter. Myatt Snider finished third while Ben Rhodes and Kyle Benjamin rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured six cautions for a total of 43 laps. There were five lead changes among four drivers. Gragson led once for three laps.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished eighth
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 46 Toyota, finished ninth
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 12th
NCWTS Championship Standings:
Gragson leaves the first race of the Round of 6 second on the NCWTS Playoff grid, 24 points above the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4.
Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Nov. 2 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Live coverage of the JAG Metals 350 begins Friday at 8:30 p.m. on FS1.