Date: Feb. 24, 2018
Event: Active Pest Controls 200 (Race 2 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway (1.54-mile quad-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 40 laps/40 laps/50 laps
Start/Finish: 3rd/2nd (Running, completed 134 of 134 laps)
Winner: Brett Moffitt of Hattori Racing Enterprises (Toyota)
After dominating Stage One of the Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway, Noah Gragson and the Safelite® AutoGlass Racing team found themselves in the back half of the top 10 for the majority of the final two stages. A late caution set up a round of pit stops with Gragson starting NASCAR overtime from the ninth position. The talented youngster rocketed four-wide to the bottom of the track through Turns One and Two, and again in Turns Three and Four, emerging in the runner-up position as the field took the white flag. The 19-year-old battled side-by-side with veteran Johnny Sauter for the final lap and in the end was able to beat Sauter to the finish line by inches.
Stage One Recap:
- Gragson started from the third position behind his Kyle Busch Motorsports’ owner and teammate, Kyle Busch.
- Gragson gave Busch a push into Turn One and then moved to the outside lane as the two drivers raced side-by-side down the backstretch. The tutee would emerge with the lead off Turn Four and remained out front for all 40 laps to earn the victory in Stage One.
Stage Two Recap:
- When pit road opened, crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment. The over-the-wall crew had a slow stop, leaving Gragson scored in the fifth position when Stage Two went green on lap 47.
- The Safelite Tundra got caught in the middle lane on the restart and subsided to the ninth spot by the time the field make it back to the start-finish line. Gragson communicated that the changes that were made to his Toyota made it tighter during Stage Two. Despite the fact, the Las Vegas native was able to pass four trucks before the completion of the Stage and cross the line fifth.
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 their young driver to the track in the sixth position. The No. 18 Toyota was scored in the seventh position when a two-truck accident slowed the field with four laps remaining.
- After hitting pit road for four tires and fuel, Gragson momentarily stalled his Tundra and would return to the track scored in the ninth position for NASCAR overtime. The amazing restart propelled the talented youngster past seven competitors and he was able to earn his second career runner-up finish in the Truck Series.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Where did you come from on that last restart?
“I came from ninth. And I think I was in second halfway down the back straight away on that first lap. It was pretty hectic there at the end. I made a mistake there on pit road that cost us probably a position or two but everything happens for a reason. Restarting ninth and coming all the way to second and that’s that.”
How important was it for you to have a good run tonight heading to Las Vegas next week?
“I felt like keeping that momentum throughout the practices yesterday and just with my feedback, and getting to know my crew chief Rudy Fugle, and trying to learn that communication was the biggest thing. I feel like that will help when we get to Las Vegas where I have one start under my belt there. I am really excited to get there. Just in the race, I need to go back. I felt like I prepared really good this weekend. I watched a ton of film and talked to Christopher (Bell) a lot. I really just tried to focus a lot on what I can do this weekend. Just need to get better. I am disappointed in myself overall throughout the race on my feedback with Rudy and the race. I need to execute better personally. It’s good having a second-place finish. We weren’t there on that last restart – we kind of just made things happen at the end. But just need to execute better in the middle stages so I can be up on that second and third row, and have that shot to win the race.”
Did you hope for the best there at the end tonight?
“It was a green-white-checkered. Two laps. I basically had in my mind it’s time to yank the belts tight and get on the gas pedal and get there at the end. Try and get after it as much as I can. I think I was on the apron in Turn 1 next to Stewart Friesen in four or five wide. It was crazy. Just held the pedal down, and stab and steer type of deal, and hope for the best. Racing (Johnny) Sauter, I was pretty loose there on that last lap, barely edged him out. I am not sure how close it was but finished second so it’s better than third.
Active Pest Controls 200 Recap:
- Brett Moffitt collected his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and the second of his career.
- Gragson finished in the runner-up position, 1.326 seconds behind Moffitt. Johnny Sauter finished third, while Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured five cautions for a total of 24 laps. There were nine lead changes among six drivers. Gragson led once for 43 laps, while KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch led three times for a race-high 67 laps.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Spencer Davis, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 13th
- Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 21st
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Gragson moved up 20 spots in the NCWTS championship standings after earning 51 points Saturday. He leaves Atlanta fourth in the standings, 39 tallies behind points leader Johnny Sauter. The 19-year-old has earned one playoff point after two races via his Stage One victory at Atlanta.
Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action March 2 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the NCWTS 200 at Las Vegas begins at 9 p.m. ET on FS1.