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Gragson Captures First-Career Truck Series Victory

Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway
Saturday, October 28, 2017

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Noah Gragson celebrates in Martinsville
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
Blowing around two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton after a restart with 10 laps left, 19-year-old Noah Gragson scored his first victory in Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway. 

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender frustrated Playoff competitors Crafton and Johnny Sauter, who finished second and third behind him. After talking the checkered flag, Gragson parked his No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota near the flag stand and climbed to the top of the frontstretch catchfence in celebration.

After Bayley Currey spun in his No. 50 Chevrolet to bring out the final caution on Lap 182, Crafton, then the race leader, chose the inside lane for the restart on Lap 191. But Gragson got a perfect drive through Turns 1 and 2, pulled ahead of Crafton on the backstretch and cleared him off Turn 4.

The Las Vegas native pulled away to win by 1.486 seconds.

"We got that caution there at the end, and you can’t pass on the outside in Martinsville – and I did it," Gragson said. "To be racing here in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, it’s a privilege, and all those hours of hard work…

"I knew to myself this morning, I knew I could get it done. I’ve known it this whole year, and I told myself I’m going to get that trophy today, and that’s what we did."

In a race that saw Playoff driver John Hunter Nemechek crash out after 37 laps because of a brake failure, Gragson held off Sauter during a 38-lap green-flag run that preceded the final caution. Though Sauter tattooed the rear bumper of the rookie throughout the run, Gragson held the position.

"Those last like 40 laps with Johnny Sauter being off my back bumper, he did that earlier to that to us in the spring, and I wasn’t going to let him pass me again like that," Gragson said. 

Noah Gragson (18) takes the checkered flag at Martinsville
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
That proved decisive, as it put Gragson on the front row for the final restart. Though the bottom at Martinsville historically has been the preferred lane for a restart, Crafton had his doubts as he came to the green flag on Lap 191.

"I told (crew chief) Junior (Joiner) I might be crazy, but I thought the top was going to be the place to go on the restart," Crafton said. "There was no rubber up there where the right-side tires were. I knew we were going to have our hands full…

"He had a perfect restart there – and I sucked."

Harrison Burton ran fourth, scoring his first top five in the series 19 days after his 17th birthday. KBM teammate Todd Gilliland was fifth, followed by Stewart Friesen and Kaz Grala. Playoff drivers Christopher Bell, Ben Rhodes and Austin Cindric were eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

Crafton won the first 50-lap stage of the race and Sauter the second stage as both drivers chipped away at Bell’s series lead, which stands at three points over Sauter and 15 over Crafton with two races left in the Playoffs Round of 6.

A good points day was little consolation to the driver of the no. 88 Toyota.

"It just sucks to finish second," Crafton said. "Just salt in the wound."

Rhodes currently holds the fourth and final Playoff transfer position, with Cindric in fifth 11 points back of Rhodes, and Nemechek in sixth trailing Rhodes by 32 points after his 30th-place finish on Saturday.


RACE RESULTS

Pos. # Driver Make Start Laps Led Status Points Playoff Points
1 18 Noah Gragson Toyota 5 200 10 Running 54 0
2 88 Matt Crafton Toyota 2 200 102 Running 54 15
3 21 Johnny Sauter Chevy 4 200 33 Running 53 28
4 51 Harrison Burton Toyota 10 200 0 Running 39 0
5 46 Todd Gilliland Toyota 13 200 0 Running 36 0
6 52 Stewart Friesen Chevy 11 200 0 Running 33 0
7 33 Kaz Grala Chevy 8 200 0 Running 35 0
8 4 Christopher Bell Toyota 15 200 16 Running 36 47
9 27 Ben Rhodes Toyota 3 200 0 Running 36 13
10 19 Austin Cindric Ford 6 200 0 Running 31 7
11 24 Justin Haley Chevy 19 200 0 Running 29 0
12 98 Grant Enfinger Toyota 16 200 0 Running 25 0
13 16 Ryan Truex Toyota 7 200 0 Running 31 0
14 92 Regan Smith Ford 22 200 0 Running 23 0
15 87 Ty Dillon Chevy 18 200 0 Running 0 0
16 02 Austin Hill Ford 23 200 0 Running 21 0
17 83 Landon Huffman Chevy 24 200 0 Running 20 0
18 99 Cale Gale Chevy 14 200 0 Running 20 0
19 29 Chase Briscoe Ford 1 199 39 Running 26 0
20 13 Cody Coughlin Toyota 20 199 0 Running 17 0
21 49 Wendell Chavous Chevy 29 199 0 Running 16 0
22 45 Jeffrey Abbey Chevy 26 199 0 Running 15 0
23 86 Mason Diaz Chevy 9 198 0 Running 17 0
24 1 Jordan Anderson Chevy 28 198 0 Running 13 0
25 50 Bayley Currey Chevy 27 196 0 Running 12 0
26 20 Jeb Burton Chevy 21 174 0 Rear Gear 0 0
27 6 Norm Benning Chevy 31 153 0 Brakes 10 0
28 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Chevy 30 108 0 Oil Line 9 0
29 44 Austin Wayne Self Chevy 25 61 0 Engine 8 0
30 8 John Hunter Nemechek Chevy 17 37 0 Accident 7 14
31 15 Gray Gaulding Chevy 12 26 0 Electrical 0 0
32 63 Chris Windom Chevy 32 0 0 Engine 5 0



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