Saturday, May 12, 2018

Gragson Collects First Win of 2018 with Dominant Performance at Kansas

Gragson Collects First Win of 2018 with Dominant Performance at Kansas

Pole - Most Laps Lead Stage 1&2 Winner - Race Win

Noah Gragson Collects First Win of 2018 with Dominant Performance at Kansas - #NASCAR

  • Date: May 11, 2018
  • Event: 37 Kind Days 250 (Race 6 of 23)
  • Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
  • Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (1.5-mile tri-oval)
  • Format: Three Stages; 40 laps/40 laps/87 laps
  • Start/Finish: 1st/1st (Running, completed 167 of 167 laps)
  • Winner: Noah Gragson of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)
Noah Gragson captured the pole, led a race-high 128 laps and swept all three stages of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City Friday night. Gragson surrendered the lead to hit pit road for his final scheduled pit stop with 33 laps remaining and then had to watch varying pit strategies play out before finally regaining the lead with six laps remaining. Once out front, the 19-year-old was able to keep Kyle Busch in his rear-view mirror, crossing the finish line 1.558 seconds ahead of his team owner to pick up his first Truck Series victory of 2018 and the second of his career.

Noah Gragson Collects First Win of 2018 with Dominant Performance at Kansas - #NASCAR

Stage One Recap:

  • Gragson captured the pole for the second straight week in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session at Kansas Speedway. It was his second pole of 2018 and fifth of his NCWTS career.
  • The 19-year-old driver elected to take the outside lane for the start of the race and would end up running second to veteran Matt Crafton for the first four laps of the event. Gragson made his way around Crafton on lap five and would remain out front for the remainder of Stage One. It marked the fourth time in the last five races that he captured the playoff point associated with winning the opening stage.

Stage Two Recap: 

  • After communicating to crew chief Rudy Fugle that his Safelite Tundra needed “just a little more rear security,” Gragson brought his Toyota to pit road between stages for four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel.
  • A fast stop by the over-the-wall crew kept the No. 18 out front when Stage Two went green on lap 50.
  • A strong restart allowed the Las Vegas native to keep the lead once the green flag waved and he would remain out front for the entirety of Stage Two.

Noah Gragson Collects First Win of 2018 with Dominant Performance at Kansas - #NASCAR

Final Stage Recap: 

  • The NASCAR Next alum brought his Toyota to the attention of his over-the-wall crew, who administered a four-tire and fuel stop with and returned Gragson to the track scored in the second position behind Justin Haley who elected to take just two tires.
  • The Final Stage went green on lap 88 and the No. 18 Safelite Tundra quickly made its way back to the front of the pack. Gragson remained out front when debris on the track slowed the field for the third time on lap 100.
  • Gragson held serve on the lap-104 restart, but it was short lived as Stewart Friesen was able to work his way into the lead just before a one-truck spin slowed the field on lap 106.
  • An issue with Friesen’s clutch caused his truck to stall during the caution and he fell back to the seventh spot before he got his truck moving again.
  • With Friesen’s issues, Gragson inherited the lead again for the lap-110 restart. The Truck Series sophomore would slowly pull away from the pack as the race approached the closing laps. He maintained a one-second lead on Friesen went he was summoned to pit road for a scheduled stop with 33 laps remaining.
  • After getting four fresh tires and fuel, the No. 18 Toyota returned to the track in the 11th position as he was one of the first trucks to pit.
  • Friesen and Busch both took just right-side tires when they hit pit road, putting them five seconds ahead of Gragson on the track. Five trucks who pitted during the debris caution were also ahead of Gragson as the race neared its conclusion.
  • Gragson would take advantage of his fresh tires and began closing in on Friesen and Busch. He worked his way around Busch for the fifth spot with 11 laps remaining and one lap later passed Friesen for the fourth spot. Next up he passed Austin Hill and Darrell Wallace with eight laps remaining to move into the second position but still found himself behind Myatt Snider, who was trying to stretch his fuel to the end.
  • Snider’s gamble on fuel backfired when he ran out of fuel with six laps remaining. When Gragson regained the lead, Busch was 0.46 seconds behind him in the runner-up position. In the closing laps the employee would open the lead up on the boss as Gragson crossed the finish line 1.558 seconds ahead of Busch.

Noah Gragson Collects First Win of 2018 with Dominant Performance at Kansas - #NASCAR

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:

What does this win mean to you after everything you went through last week?

“This is such a relief for a driver that had a hard week last week battling for the win between myself and Johnny Sauter. We came back stronger this weekend with two consecutive poles in a row. Led the most laps today. Man, this is a pretty damn cool moment. I’m so thankful for everyone at Safelite, Switch, Toyota, TRD – everyone at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), Samantha and Kyle Busch – my parents, my mom definitely. Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I know you’re watching in Italy with dad right now, I love you guys. Thank you so much for everything you do. It’s so awesome to get here with Safelite AutoGlass. First win of the year and we’re going to the playoffs and I can tell you there’s going to be a lot more wins this year with this group behind me. We had solid pit stops all day.”

What was it like taking four tires early and chasing down all the trucks to regain the lead?

“Man, I thought I came out of the pits and I thought I was going to be the leader. They told me that Johnny (Sauter) was stretching on fuel, so I thought maybe I’m running second. Then they said the 52 (Stewart Friesen) and 4 (Kyle Busch) were a half lap ahead and I thought that was for the lead. I passed the 4 and then I passed the 52 and then they said the 13 (Myatt Snider) is the leader. I was like, ‘Dang, how many leaders are there going to be?’ We made it happen there at the end. Solid pit crew. They did an amazing job with pit stops today. We executed perfectly today and we got the job done. Thanks to Safelite AutoGlass, Switch and Toyota for allowing this dream to happen.”

Did you have something to prove here today?

“You’re always going to have a bit of that chip on your shoulder. I was battling for the win last week and we were really fast. We had another Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra last week and didn’t get the job done. I raced the Xfinity Series race and that really helped my confidence get back to where it needed to be and just being able to surround myself with everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. All the fans for being so supportive of me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. I got a lot of positive comments. I read all those comments, good or bad from the fans and they keep me going. There’s a little bit. I knew we had a fast Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra. We sat on the pole. You always want to go into a race where you feel like you should have won the weekend before and you really want to go dominate that race all day long and I felt like that’s what we did today. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity without my team. They work so hard and bust their tails every single day. Just very fortunate.

37 Kind Days 250 Recap:

  • Gragson collected his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2018 and the second of his career. Busch finished 1.558 seconds behind Gragson in the runner-up position to make it a KBM one-two finish. Friesen finished third, while John Hunter Nemechek and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top-five finishers.
  • The race featured four cautions for a total of 21 laps. There were 13 lead changes among eight drivers. Gragson led six times for a race-high 128 laps. He has led at least one lap in five of the six events this season.

How Gragson’s KBM Teammates Fared:

  • Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished second
  • Brandon Jones, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished ninth

NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:

Gragson moved up one position in the NCWTS Driver Championship standings to second. After six races the 19-year-old driver is 35 tallies behind championship leader Johnny Sauter. With the win Gragson earns a spot in the Truck Series playoffs. He has earned 10 playoff points this season, including the seven earned at Kansas Friday night.


Next Race:

Gragson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action May 18 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 begins Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

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