It all came down to two laps and Noah Gragson never looked back as he held on to score his first Xfinity Series win of the season in overtime at Darlington Raceway.
“A lot of frustration this year,” Gragson said, “and things haven‘t gone our way, but we‘re getting some momentum when we need to, and I just can‘t thank everybody enough on this No. 9 team.
“This is Darlington, I can’t believe it.”
Gragson now has five top 10s in five starts at the Darlington and earned his third victory in 93 Xfinity Series starts. Coming off the announcement by JR Motorsports only a few days ago that his contract was renewed through 2022, Gragson can advance to the Playoffs with confidence.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton finished second, his third top-10 finish in four races at Darlington. Defending series champion Austin Cindric placed third for Team Penske, his third top-10 finish in four starts at the 1.366-mile track. Kaulig Racing drivers, Justin Haley and Jeb Burton rounded out the top five.
Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Jeremy Clements, Snider and Alex Labbe finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
Stage 1 Highlights
Power issues that resulted from a faulty plug wire during the opening laps forced Daniel Hemric to pit twice but he was able to move up through the field and rebound to win Stage 1.
Noah Gragson finished second followed by AJ Allmendinger in third and Justin Haley in fourth. Denny Hamlin had the dominant car during the first stage but spun as Stage 1 was ending and finished fifth. Harrison Burton, Austin Cindric, Brandon Jones, Myatt Snider and Justin Allgaier finished sixth – 10th in the first stage.
Stage 2 Highlights
Noah Gragson won Stage 2 in a three and four-wide race to the finish. Hamlin, Cindric, Allgaier, Hemric, AJ Allmendinger, Harrison Burton, Austin Dillon, Haley and Snider rounded out the top 10.
During the stage break, the leaders chose to pit and Gragson was able to retain the lead after pit stops were completed.
Stage 3 Highlights
On Lap 108 Riley Herbst was involved in an accident when Tommy Joe Martins suddenly slowed in Turn 3. Herbst was unable to stop and ran into the back of Martins. As he took his car to pit road, Herbst’s car caught on fire but he was able to get out of the car quickly. The incident brought out the sixth caution of the race.
During the caution, most of the leaders again decided to pit and Hamlin was first off pit road to take the lead. As the race neared its finish, Brandon Jones spun on Lap 138 leaving debris on the track and bringing out the eighth and final caution on Lap 146 to send the race into overtime.
Gragson held off Harrison Burton and led the final two laps to capture the victory.
There were eight cautions for 41 laps and 19 lead changes among eight drivers. Hamlin led a race-high 43 laps followed by Gragson who led 40 laps during the race.
There were no issues in the post-race inspection.
The Xfinity Series’ next race is at Richmond Raceway, Saturday, Sept. 11 at 2:30 p.m. ET. There are only two races remaining in the regular season.
Xfinity Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200 results:
|19||Joe Graf Jr.|
|37||Tommy Joe Martins|