Safelite AutoGlass Team Closes Gap in Regular Season Championship Standings
Date: July 18, 2018
Event: Eldora Dirt Derby (Race 13 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio (0.5-mile clay oval)
Format: Three Stages; 40 laps/50 laps/63 laps
Start/Finish: 27th/6th (Running, completed 153 of 153 laps)
Winner: Chase Briscoe of Thorsport Racing (Ford)
Noah Gragson battled his way from the 27th starting position to a sixth-place finish in Wednesday night’s Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. After making contact with the wall in his qualifying race, Gragson finished sixth and was forced to run the last chance race, where he finished second and earned his way into the main event.
The Las Vegas native was running 15th with 40 laps remaining in the lone dirt race of the season before maneuvering his way forward in the closing laps. He restarted from the 12th position with 14 laps remaining and two laps later avoided a three-truck wreck to advance to the eighth spot. The Safelite AutoGlass Tundra took the final restart, which came under NASCAR overtime rules, in the eighth position and gained two spots over the final two laps to earn his 10th top-10 finish of the season.
Gragson finished 10 spots ahead of points leader Johnny Sauter and for the second consecutive race closed the gap in the battle for the regular season championship. Sauter was leading the standings by 65 points after the event at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., but heads into next week’s race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., holding a 32-point cushion with three races remaining.
Stage One Recap:
- Gragson started from the 27th position but got shuffled back on the initial restart and on lap two was at the tail end of the 32-truck field.
- He was scored in the 28th position when the field was slowed for the first time for a one-truck spin on lap 11, 26th when another one-truck spin slowed the field again on lap 22 and 21st when the caution flew yet again for a one-truck spin on lap 28.
- The field went back green with seven laps remaining in Stage One and the Safelite pilot was able to work his way up to the 18th position by the time the field took the green-checkered flag.
- Crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his driver to pit road between stages for four fresh tires, a full load of fuel and a major chassis adjustment.
Stage Two Recap:
- With seven trucks remaining on the track between stages, Gragson restarted 25th when the field took the green for Stage Two.
- He had advanced to the 20th spot when the field was slowed for the fifth time on lap 54. The event would go green for the final 30 laps of the stage with the Las Vegas finishing in the 23rd position.
- Fugle elected to keep his driver on the track between stages to gain track position.
Final Stage Recap:
- The Safelite Tundra would take the start of the Final Stage from the 10th spot and scored in the 12th position when a two-truck accident slowed the field with 20 laps remaining.
- After avoiding a three-truck wreck in front of him on lap 137, he advanced into the top 10 once again. Gragson maintained the eighth position as another caution occurred two laps later setting up NASCAR overtime and then gained two spots over the final two laps to bring home a hard-fought sixth-place finish.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Talk about your finish.
“It was a challenging day the entire race day. Qualifying didn’t go too great. We qualified 13th. In the heat race, I bumped into the wall, so we had to go to the transfer race. Got to second, so we got the transfer spot for second position. Started the race and we were last there at one point. Then we were able to rally ourselves up to the front. I am thankful to be out here in the Truck Series but I am not too mad we don’t have to come back out here for the remainder of the season. Ready for Pocono and we’re closing in on the points championship.”
Eldora Dirt Derby Recap:
- Chase Briscoe collected his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and the second of his career. Grant Enfinger finished 0.038 seconds behind Briscoe in the runner-up position. Stewart Friesen finished third while Matt Crafton and Brett Moffitt rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured nine cautions for a total of 41 laps. There were seven lead changes among five drivers. Gragson failed to lead a lap for just the second time this season.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Logan Seavey, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished eighth
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 22nd
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
With his 10th top-10 finish of the season Gragson maintained the second position in the NCWTS Driver Championship standings. With three races remaining in the regular season, the 20-year-old driver is 32 tallies behind championship leader Johnny Sauter. Gragson has earned 12 playoff points this season.
Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action July 28 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. Live coverage of the Eldora Dirt Derby begins Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on FS1.