Date: March 24, 2018
Event: Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (Race 4 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (0.526-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 70 laps/70 laps/110 laps
Start/Finish: 11th/5th (Running, completed 250 of 250 laps)
Winner: John Hunter Nemechek of NEMCO Motorsports (Chevrolet)
In a race that started Saturday and finished Monday, Noah Gragson and the Safelite AutoGlass team came from the 11th starting position to finish fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Stage One Recap:
- Gragson had gained one position Saturday when precipitation prevailed and NASCAR postponed the race to Sunday after 23 laps were completed. The race was then postponed to Monday after three inches of snow fell overnight Saturday.
- When the race resumed on Monday, Gragson picked up two spots over the first five laps to move up to eighth. As the opening stage proceeded caution free for the final 56 laps, the No. 18 Tundra remained eighth as the field cross the stripe on lap 70.
Stage Two Recap:
- When pit road opened, crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel with a chassis adjustment to try and improve the handling for Gragson. The Safelite Tundra was scored in the seventh position when Stage Two went green on lap 82.
- Gragson moved up to the fourth spot with a strong restart and when the top three drivers made contact, he had to swerve to miss a spinning Stewart Friesen. While he went high to avoid contact, three trucks made their way to the inside of his Tundra before the caution flew.
- The Las Vegas native restarted from the seventh position on lap 92 and would remain there when Stage Two ended on lap 140.
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 with a trackbar adjustment and returned Gragson to the track scored in the eighth position.
- After the field went three wide to start the Final Stage, Gragson got caught in the middle and subsided to the ninth position. With passing at a premium, the Safelite Tundra had only advanced back to the eighth position when the field was slowed for the seventh time on lap 215.
- Fugle elected to put on four scuffed tires to try and give the No. 18 team an advantage for the final 35-lap battle. After restarting ninth on lap 220, Gragson advanced three spots over the next three laps.
- Gragson took the final restart of the race from the fourth position on lap 243, but lost one spot in the closing laps and crossed the stripe fifth. It was the talented youngster’s second top-five finish across four starts this season.
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Was your day easy or did you have some challenges out there?
“No, we really struggled on our Safelite Auto Glass / Switch Toyota Tundra all week from practice, to qualifying, to the race. Just couldn’t get a handle on it. Just tough. Really, really, tough. I’d say we were about a tenth-place truck and came home fifth. We improved. It was a character building day out here, so just thankful for the opportunity. Days like this really make me stronger. We learn as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. Just have to go back to the shop, work harder, come back next time and hopefully win.”
Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Recap:
- John Hunter Nemechek collected his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and the sixth of his career. Kyle Benjamin finished 0.106 seconds behind Nemechek in the runner-up position. Brett Moffitt finished third, while Grant Enfinger and Gragson rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured 10 cautions for a total of 68 laps. There were 10 lead changes among six drivers. Gragson failed to lead a lap for the first time this season.
How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished eighth
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 14th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Gragson fell one position in the NCWTS Driver Championship standings to fifth. After four races the 19-year-old driver is 35 tallies behind championship leader Johnny Sauter. He has earned two playoff points.
Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action May 4 at Dover (Del.) In. Live coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 200 begins Friday at 5 p.m. ET on FS1.