Dover Recap: Noah Gragson

(Photo: Getty Images)

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Switch Chevrolet Camaro, was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop under green while running inside the top 10 during the final stage of Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Dover International Speedway, ultimately relegating the JR Motorsports driver with a 19th-place finish. With the result, Gragson remains ninth in the championship standings.

Gragson was scheduled to start the 200-lap event from the ninth position, but an adjustment prior to the beginning of the race was deemed unapproved by NASCAR, causing the rookie driver to take the green flag from the rear of the field in 37th. Despite having to start at the rear, Gragson charged forward once underway, improving 19 positions to 15th by the time the caution-free opening stage came to a close on lap 45.

During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Dave Elenz called the driver of the Switch Chevrolet to pit road for four tires and an air pressure adjustment in the hopes of helping a loose-handling condition that had developed during Stage One. Gragson returned to the track following the stop for the beginning of Stage Two in 12th but wasted little time driving into the top 10. Once there, Gragson continued to press forward, moving up to ninth before the second caution-free stage of the afternoon concluded on lap 90. With the stage-ending result, Gragson earned two valuable points.

Prior to the beginning of the third and final stage, the Las Vegas native returned to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment after reporting to Elenz that he needed more help rolling through the corner. Gragson left pit road for the ensuing restart in sixth, but quickly developed a tight-handling condition that shuffled the JRM driver back to ninth. Despite losing a couple positions, Gragson settled in and remained in the top 10 until a lap 152 caution period provided Elenz with another opportunity to bring Gragson to pit road.

After lining up for the ensuing restart on lap 159 in sixth, Gragson was forced to return to pit road under green just three laps later as a result of a loose wheel. The unscheduled pit stop unfortunately placed Gragson two laps behind the race leaders.

In the closing laps, Gragson continued to fight for position before ultimately taking the checkered flag in 19th.

Christopher Bell earned the victory, with JRM teammate Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Switch team

“We gave it all we had today with our Switch Chevrolet. I just want to thank Dave (Elenz, crew chief) and everyone on this JR Motorsports team for all of their hard work. We had a fast Camaro today but just got hit with some bad luck. We’ll overcome this and be ready to get after them in Charlotte.”