Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Superior Essex Chevrolet Camaro, earned his 15th top-10 finish in the last 17 races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series after taking the checkered flag in the seventh position on Friday night at Richmond Raceway. With the top-10 result, Gragson sits in the eighth and final cut-off position in the NXS Playoff Grid with two races remaining in the Round of 12. Following the completion of the Oct. 5 event at Dover International Speedway, the bottom four drivers will be eliminated from playoff contention.
Gragson lined up for the first event of the NXS Playoffs from the eighth position and wasted little time marching forward, racing into the top five and up to the fourth position just before a lap 50 caution period. The driver of the Superior Essex Chevrolet continued to push toward the front on the ensuing restart, taking advantage of the outside line to drive into the top three and take the green-and-white checkered flag to end Stage One on lap 75 in third. The stage result also earned Gragson eight valuable stage points.
During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Dave Elenz called the Las Vegas native to pit road for four tires and a slight air pressure adjustment after Gragson had reported that he was a little loose on the entry and exit of the corner. The rookie-of-the-year contender lined up for the beginning of Stage Two in fourth, but fell back to eighth after the initial restart. Despite the loss of track position, Gragson pressed on, utilizing the caution-free second stage to gain two positions in the closing laps to take the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 150 in sixth and earn an additional five stage points in the process.
While under caution following Stage Two, the driver of the Superior Essex Chevrolet came back to pit road for four tires and no adjustments, returning to the track for the third and final stage in fifth. As the caution-free final stage progressed, Gragson reported to Elenz that the loose-handling condition had returned through the corner. Although not handling to his liking, Gragson maintained his track position inside the top 10 throughout the final stage, ultimately taking the checkered flag in seventh.
With the result, Gragson is scored eighth in the NXS Playoff Grid with two races remaining in the Round of 12.
Christopher Bell earned the victory, with Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, JRM teammate Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.
Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Superior Essex team
“Today was a solid day. We were able to accomplish our goals and earn stage points in both stages and come home inside the top 10, which is what we need to do to make sure we can move on to the next round in the playoffs. I just can’t say enough about all of the hard work by everyone on this Superior Essex team. It was a long day with this being a one-day show, but these guys fought hard all day and it feels good to come home with another good run and keep this momentum going. Hopefully we can carry this over into the Roval next week. I can’t wait.”