In a series as competitive as the modern NASCAR Xfinity Series, it’s rare to see a single driver and/or single organization achieve the level of dominance that JR Motorsports and Noah Gragson have this season.
The 24-year-old, who has already been tapped to compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series for Petty GMS Motorsports next season, continued to show the world he’s ready to take on the best drivers in the sport. Sundays.
On Saturday at Texas, Gragson not only pushed his point further, but joined the elite in NASCAR Xfinity Series history, earning his fourth consecutive victory in the second-tier series, after winning races at Darlington, Kansas and Bristol.
Leading a record 85 laps out of 200, the Las Vegas, Nevada native was able to take control of the race early on, after Brandon Jones was knocked down by Daniel Hemric in the race’s first set of corners.
Although Gragson would relinquish the lead for most of the first part of the race, the JR Motorsports driver would come back into the picture when the payment window opened, returning to the lead just before the halfway mark of the race.
Gragson’s competition dwindled considerably in the early part of the final leg of the race as a few multi-car crashes knocked out leaders like John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones.
With the field greatly reduced, the pace of the race was easily found, with the 300-mile event providing a green-flagged 72-lap race to the finish, which included a rare sight in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, a set of green flags stops.
The Andy’s Frozen Custard 300’s final lead change came with just 12 laps to go, when Gragson was able to pass Jeb Burton for the lead, as Burton was on an alternate strategy, hoping to catch a warning as the race was reaching its final laps. .
From there, it was smooth sailing for Gragson, who earned his seventh NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the year by 1.238 seconds over Austin Hill, who finished second for Richard Childress Racing.
After starting at the back of the pack for unapproved adjustments, Ty Gibbs was able to bounce back to score a third-place finish, although he wasn’t a factor in the second half of the event.
AJ Allmendinger was able to bounce back from sustaining damage in a crash early in stage three to finish fourth, while Riley Herbst earned his second consecutive top-five finish in fifth.
Josh Berry and Sheldon Creed managed to follow the strategy until the end of the race to finish sixth and seventh, while Sam Mayer recovered from major damage after hitting the wall to finish eighth. Ryan Sieg was able to secure a ninth place finish, having also been recovered in an accident.
CJ McLaughlin, who was the reason for the second of the race’s nine cautions on lap 38, was able to play the right strategy to come home in 10th position.
Brandon Jones (27th), Justin Allgaier (29th), Daniel Hemric (30th) and Jeremy Clements (36th) were the four Playoff drivers who finished outside the top 10.
Clements, who came wide to advance to the next lap, suffered mechanical issues, forcing him to drop 79 laps in the 200-lap event.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is probably the biggest post-season wildcard, Talladega Superspeedway, where all Playoff-eligible drivers will attempt to avoid the massive crash looming as “The Big One.”