Safelite Tundra Leads Race-High 35 Laps at CTMP
Date: Aug. 26, 2018
Event: NCWTS 250 (Race 17 of 23, Playoff Race 1)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario (2.459-mile road course)
Format: Three Stages; 20 laps/20 laps/25 laps
Start/Finish: 2nd/9th (Running, completed 65 of 65 laps)
Winner: Justin Haley of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Noah Gragson led a race-high 35 laps and won the first two stags of Sunday’s NASCAR Camping World Series Playoff opener before finishing ninth after losing several spots after an accident happened in the final corner on the final lap of the race.
After winning Stage 2, the No. 18 Safelite Tundra hit pit road for four fresh tires and fuel and returned to the track scored in the 11th position, behind teams that had pitted late in Stage 2. Gragson methodically maneuvered his way back towards the front of the field, making his way into the runner-up position, 3.5 seconds behind his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Todd Gilliland, with seven laps remaining. The field was slowed for a one-truck accident with two laps remaining and set up NASCAR overtime.
Gilliland got a strong restart and when he took the white flag was 0.68 seconds ahead of Gragson. Gragson dug deep and slowly reeled in his teammate over the course of the final lap. As they entered the final turn, Gragson made a run to the inside of Gilliland and both trucks went spinning after making contact with each other. After gathering up his Toyota and getting it headed in the right direction, Gragson crossed the stripe in the ninth spot.
Gragson – who recorded his 11th consecutive top-10 finish – leaves the first race of the playoffs in the fourth position, 24 points ahead of the cutoff line for advancing to the Round of 6.
Stage One Recap:
- After starting second, Gragson followed in the tracks of pole sitter Ben Rhodes for the first seven laps. Gragson made his way around Rhodes for the lead on lap 8 and remained out front for the remainder of the stage.
Stage Two Recap:
- When pit road opened, crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned the Safelite Tundra to pit road for four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel.
- Stage Two went green on lap 24 with Gragson scored in the fifth position, the first driver with four fresh tires. By the time the field came back around to complete lap 25, Gragson was back at the front of the field.
- The No. 18 Toyota remained out front when the field was slowed for the second time on lap 32 for a stalled vehicle.
- Gragson was able to hold serve on the restart when the field went back green with six laps remaining and remained out front when the field cross the stripe to complete Stage Two on lap 40. It was the 20-year-old driver’s series-leading ninth stage win of 2018.
Final Stage Recap:
- When pit road opened, Gragson brought the Safelite Tundra to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop. With several teams having played the strategy card at the end of Stage Two, he returned to the track scored in the 11th spot for the start of the Final Stage.
- He returned to the top five with 11 laps remaining and advanced into the runner-up position with seven laps remaining.
- A caution with two laps remaining set up NASCAR overtime and produced another wild finish at the road course north of the border. After the last-corner contact with Gilliland, Gragson gathered his Tundra up and crossed the stripe in the ninth spot.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
How do you explain that last corner and what happened?
“That one’s on me. I mean racing for the win – it’s my teammate. I apologize to Todd (Gilliland). I apologize to the 4 team. I apologize to everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. We’re in the playoffs and I’m trying to get a win. I was making – I was squirting the throttle right there in between (turns) 9 and 10 and between them right there. Just wasn’t quite there and it’s just unfortunate. That one’s on me. Just trying to get a little bit too much trying to win. Wins are so big here.”
How do you address this with your teammate Todd Gilliland?
“That’s just handled later. Right now, it’s just all about getting back and regrouping and focusing on Vegas. I wasn’t trying to take him out. I was expecting him just to give me a little bit more room on the bottom and it just wasn’t there. It wasn’t meant to be. Just apologize to everyone.”
NCWTS 250 Recap:
- Justin Haley collected his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and automatically advances to the Round of 6. John Hunter Nemechek finished 2.223 seconds behind Haley in the runner-up spot. Brett Moffitt finished third while Timothy Peters and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured five cautions for a total of 18 laps. There were eight lead changes among six drivers. Gragson led three times for a race-high 35 laps. He has now led at least one lap in all but two of his 16 starts in 2018 and continues to lead the Truck Series with 510 laps led on the season.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 11th
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 13th
NCWTS Championship Standings:
With one of three races complete in the Round of 8, Gragson sits fourth in the point standings. With two races remaining in the Round of 8, he sits 24 points ahead of the cutoff line for advancing to the Round of 6.
Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Sept. 14 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the World of Westgate 200 begins Friday at 9 p.m. on FS1.