SONOMA, Calif. — With a mixture of Cup and Xfinity Series regulars and one of the largest fields in the season, Noah Gragson wins a wild Procore 200 at Sonoma Raceway in the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series after three overtime attempts.
On a restart just before halfway through the race, Noah Gragson gained a large lead going into the first set of turns climbing the hill. Officials declared he jumped the start, and Gragson had to serve a pass-through penalty. However, that seemed to only light a fire in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular as he began to charge through the field.
“I was trying to not leave anything on the table,” said Gragson after recovering from the mid-race restart violation.
Gragson not only returned with a team that helped get his national exposure, but took them to victory lane in his old school fashion of ‘pitching’ the car better than the competition.
“That new Carousel section is definitely a challenge,” said Gragson. “It feels good to be able to meet that challenge.
“It’s like running a mile. If I’m throwing up, hopefully it’s not like I’m sick. I’m all right. But if I’m throwing up after the race, I guess that means that I did a good job because I’ll be in Victory Lane hopefully. The only times I’ve thrown up after the races were when I’ve won, so it feels good.”
Ryan Preece officially restarted all overtime attempts in the lead, as the K&N Series do not have timing loops around the road course. All restarts were set by the running order of the last officially timed lap. Gragson was technically second to cross the line when the checkered and yellow flew. However, there was a third flag covered in black; Preece was penalized after NASCAR officials declared the No. 47 Chevrolet jumped the green flag on the final overtime restart.
“To get robbed like that, it’s just (expletive),” Preece declared as he walked away after a short interview. “I just like to win.”
Preece wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Hemric, who started alongside him during all the overtime attempts, felt the restarts were all fair.
“I felt it was fair,” Hemric shared with reporters after being asked about Preece’s violation. Hemric started alongside Preece in all the overtime restarts.
Gragson bested a couple Monster Energy Cup Series regulars, as Hemric was posted second with Cup series teammate Austin Dillon finishing third. Xfinity Series regular Cole Custer took fourth with David Mayhew fifth. Preece was dropped to 20th place in the 31-car field, scored as the final driver on the lead lap.
Earlier in the race, points leader Derek Kraus suffered a fuel pump failure. The crew was able to get the part replaced and the No. 16 Napa Auto Parts Toyota was only three laps down. Kraus was able to get the Lucky Dog free passes he needed to get back on the lead lap with roughly 10 laps to go.
The major concern for their team was with the field double the size, there were more points to be lost where a DNF would become the amount of two when comparing the points. Kraus realized this and fought his way to fighting for a top 10 finish. As he was climbing through the field, he was caught up in a spin by Jack Wood, which set up the race for an overtime finish. Kraus would also get caught up in yet another incident during the final overtime attempt, and officially finished in the 19th position.
Kraus currently still leads the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series points standings by just one point over Hailie Deegan.