Gragson capitalizes late to win rain-shortened Xfinity event in Kansas

A pass for the lead with 15 laps to go in stage two, followed by a two-lap dash to the end of the stage gave Noah Gragson and the #9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro a rain-cut victory in the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, September 10.

Gragson, 24, of Las Vegas, Nevada, led three times for 20 of the shortened 93 laps, including the last 18, as he held on to the lead through two late restarts before the second leg concluded , including a two-lap dash to the eventual finish over teammate Justin Allgaier and Ty Gibbs. When stage two ended on lap 90, NASCAR directed the field to pit road on lap 93 due to a weather delay. As the rush increased and rain approached the track, NASCAR called to deem the race official and award Gragson his fifth Xfinity victory of the season and his second in recent weeks after winning the weekend’s event. last end at Darlington Raceway.

With track qualifying determining the starting line-up on Friday, Brandon Jones claimed his fifth career pole position, third of the season and second in recent weeks after lapping 174.695 mph in 30.911 seconds. Joining him in the front row was teammate Ty Gibbs, winner of last year’s Xfinity event in Kansas who set the second-fastest qualifying lap at 174.520 mph in 30.942 seconds.

Prior to the event, names like Jesse Iwuji (who replaced Kyle Weatherman for the main event despite Weatherman training and qualifying for the main event), Joey Gase, Josh Williams, CJ McLaughlin, Brennan Poole, JJ Yeley, Kris Wright, Stefan Parsons and Brandon Brown dropped to the back of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective cars. Ryan Vargas also crashed to the back of the field in a spare car after destroying his main car in Saturday’s qualifying session.

When the green flag was waved and the race started, the field quickly spread out into three lanes on the entry to the first corner as Brandon Jones held off teammate Ty Gibbs to lead the opening lap. As the field continued to unfold on lap two, AJ Allmendinger was third ahead of Richard Childress Racing rookies Sheldon Creed and Austin Hill with JR Motorsports competitors Sam Mayer, Noah Gragson and Justin Allgaier following the chase.

Four laps later and after an early battle with teammate Joe Gibbs Racing, Gibbs put Reser’s #54 Toyota Supra Fine Foods in the lead over Jones’ #19 Toyota Supra Menards.

Over the first 10 scheduled laps, Gibbs led by nearly three-tenths of a second over teammate Brandon Jones followed by Allmendinger, Gragson and Allgaier. Teammates Hill and Creed battled for sixth while Sammy Smith, Sam Mayer and Daniel Hemric occupied the top 10. Riley Herbst was in 11th followed by Ross Chastain, Ryan Sieg, Josh Berry and Brett Moffitt while Landon Cassill, Myatt Snider, Anthony Alfredo, Jeb Burton and Bailey Currey were in the top 20.

Ten laps later, Gibbs extended his advantage to over a second over teammate Brandon Jones while third-placed Gragson trailed by nearly four seconds. Behind, Allmendinger and Allgaier are battling for fourth place while Sammy Smith, Hill and Mayer were sixth, seventh and eighth. Meanwhile, Creed, coming off his best career run at Darlington Raceway, had fallen back to ninth while Brett Moffitt was 10th.

On lap 30, Gibbs, navigating through traffic, stabilized his advantage at almost two seconds over teammate Brandon Jones while Gragson remained in third place and trailed by more than three seconds. At that time, Sammy Smith moved his #18 Flying J Toyota Supra driver to fourth, followed by Allgaier while Allmendinger, Hill, Moffitt, Mayer and Herbst were in the top 10. Creed was back in 12th behind Josh Berry while Hemric, Cassill and Chastain battled it out in the top 15.

When the first stage ended on lap 45, Gibbs battled his way to his fifth stage victory of the 2022 season. Gragson, who battled his way around Brandon Jones for second place near the lap 40, settled into second followed by Jones, Sammy Smith and Allgaier while Moffitt, Hill, Allmendinger, Berry and Herbst were scored in the top 10.

During the stage break the leaders led by Gibbs came to a halt for the first time and Gibbs retained the lead after leaving pit road first, followed by Gragson, Sammy Smith, Allgaier, Brandon Jones and Hill.

Stage two started on lap 51 with Gibbs and Gragson occupying the front row. At the start, Gibbs and Gragson battled for the lead at turn one while Hill, who restarted in the top six, fanned out over three lanes in his #21 United Rentals Chevrolet Camaro as he moved up the leaderboard and battled Gragson for the finalist spot. Up front, Gibbs held on to the lead as Allgaier settled in behind teammate Gragson and Hill before attacking Hill for third. Meanwhile, Sammy Smith, who started third, fell back to sixth.

Four laps later Moffitt, who had a strong top six result on stage one, demolished the outside wall at Turn 1 as he raced into the top 10 as he dropped back to 13th while that the event was taking place under the green.

By lap 60, Gibbs was leading Gragson’s #9 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro by more than a second while teammate Allgaier’s #7 Chevrolet Camaro Brandt trailed by more than three seconds. Hill and Brandon Jones were fourth and fifth while Cassill, Berry, Sammy Smith, Allmendinger and Chastain raced in the top 10.

Ten rounds later, the caution flew when Jeremy Clements, whose team is awaiting the verdict to appeal their congested Daytona victory in August and who is currently sitting outside the playoff picture, spun his #51 Chevrolet Camaro under the apron entering Turn 4 while trying to enter pit road. During the caution period, the majority of the field led by Gibbs stopped while names like Hill, Moffitt and Ryan Sieg remained on the track.

When the event restarted under the green on lap 75, Hill took an early advantage while Moffitt, who restarted on the front row and on the outside lane, spun the tires causing a lockup and a deploying the peloton through the front stretch and entering the first lap. Soon after, Gragson fought his way into the lead down the straight. On the next lap, Allmendinger took second followed by Brandon Jones, Allgaier and Gibbs as Hill continued to lose more track space on old tyres.

Then with eight laps to go on stage two, the warning came back due to reported rain on the track. At the time of the caution, Gragson was the leader followed by teammate Allgaier, Gibbs, Brandon Jones and Sammy Smith. By then, Moffitt, Hill and Ryan Sieg were down to 15th, 17th and 19th.

With two laps remaining in the second leg, the race started again under the green. At the start, teammates Gragson and Allgaier battled for the lead around the first corner until Gragson managed to edge past Allgaier on the straight while Gibbs used the outside lane to force his way into third place.

On the final lap of stage two, Gragson held on to the lead as Gibbs battled Allgaier for second ahead of Jones. As the on-track battles behind the leaders continued for a final full lap, Gragson managed to get back into the lead with the lead and record his 13th stage win of the 2022 season. Behind, Allgaier edged Gibbs to s ‘set second despite being hit by Gibbs as he approached the start/finish line. Brandon Jones and Chastain settled into the top five while Allmendinger, Berry, Sammy Smith, Mayer and Moffitt settled into the top 10.

During the stage break, the peloton led by Gragson was brought onto pit road and the race was flagged on lap 93 due to a weather delay.

Then, as the rain continued, NASCAR ruled the race official and Gragson, who waited in the garage for news, earned his fifth Xfinity Series win of the season. The victory was Gragson’s 10th of his Xfinity career and his first in the series at Kansas as he targets the Playoffs and for his first NASCAR National Touring Series championship. The victory was also the 11th of the season for JR Motorsports.

“[The race] was tough,” Gragson, who still managed to display his winning mark by scaling the fence on the straight, told USA Network. “I don’t know if we had the fastest car at the start of the first stage. I felt like [the race] would have gone green, we could have continued to work [the car], I’m working on it. We had a pretty fast car there, but I’ll take them anyway. [Allgaier] was fast. [Gibbs] was, obviously, the fastest car of the whole day. Extremely grateful. Super grateful. We’ll take them when we can get them.

His teammate Allgaier finished the event in second place while Gibbs, Brandon Jones and Chastain finished in the top five. Allmendinger, Berry, Sammy Smith, Mayer and Moffitt got the top 10 results.

There were six head changes for four different leaders. The race had four warnings for 18 laps.

With only one regular season event remaining on the schedule, Noah Gragson, Ty Gibbs, Justin Allgaier, AJ Allmendinger, Josh Berry, rookie Austin Hill and Brandon Jones have clinched spots for the 2022 Xfinity Playoffs based on a win. throughout the regular season. stretch while Sam Mayer and Riley Herbst also clinched playoff spots based on points. Daniel Hemric, Landon Cassill and Ryan Sieg fill the remaining vacant Playoff spots based on points. Rookie Sheldon Creed trails the top 12 to make the Playoffs by 13 points, Brandon Brown by 100 points, Anthony Alfredo by 101 and Myatt Snider by 177.

Results.

1. Noah Gragson, 20 laps ahead, stage 2 winner

2. Justin Allgaier

3. Ty Gibbs, 66 laps ahead, stage 1 winner

4. Brandon Jones, five laps ahead

5.Ross Chastain

6. AJ Allmendinger

7.Josh Berry

8. Samy Smith

9. Sam Mayer

10. Brett Moffit

11. Sheldon’s Creed

12. Austin Hill

13. Landon Cassill

14. Ryan Sieg

15. Daniel Hemric

16. Riley Herbst

17. Brandon Brown

18. Anthony Alfredo

19. Myatt Snider

20. Kris Wright

21. Jeremy Clements, one lap behind

22. JJ Yeley, one lap late

23. David Starr, one lap late

24. Josh Williams, one lap late

25. Rajah Caruth, one lap behind

26. Stefan Parsons, one lap behind

27. Derek Griffith, one lap down

28. Howie Disavino III, one lap behind

29. Dillon Bassett, one lap late

30. Joey Gase, one lap behind

31. Mason Massey, two laps down

32. Garrett Smithley, two laps down

33. Ryan Vargas, two laps down

34. CJ McLaughlin, two laps down

35. Bayley Currey, three laps down

36. Jesse Iwuji, four laps behind

37. Brennan Poole – OUT, Transmission

38. Jeb Burton – OUT, Engine

The 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season leg is scheduled to conclude next Friday, September 16 at Bristol Motor Speedway, where the 12-car playoff field will be determined. Coverage of the event is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.

Joseph K. Bennett