Gragson Wins at Bristol in Late Shootout

Photo: Getty Images

Start: 9th
Finish: 1st

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Plan B Sales Chevrolet, scored his first short-track win and second overall win of 2020 in Monday evening’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Cheddar’s 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Gragson started from 9th after a random draw and was able to grab points during both stages, including a win in Stage One and a second-place finish in Stage Two, en route to the victory. 

Stage One Finish: 1st

Gragson fired off in the ninth starting position for the 300-lap event and jumped to the top five by lap 7, when the first yellow flag waved. The race went green until the competition caution flew on lap 35 as Gragson ran in the second position. The No. 9 Plan B Sales Camaro did not pit and restarted in the second position. The race went back green on lap 43 and by lap 47, Gragson was taking the lead. The next caution took place on lap 62 as Gragson paced the field. Restarting on lap 69 from the first position, Gragson set sail and did not look back as he was the first driver to take the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 85, earning 10 stage points and one playoff point.

Stage Two Finish: 2nd

The No. 9 Plan B Sales Camaro came to pit road following the stage-break for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment to fix a tight-handling condition. When the race went back green, Gragson restarted in the sixth position but set his eyes forward as he jumped three spots before a yellow flag on lap 102. Gragson did not bring the car down pit road during this caution and restarted in the third position. The No. 9 Camaro fell to fourth before the next yellow flew on lap 123. The team decided to not pit again and restarted in the fourth position. Following the restart, Gragson drove the No. 9 Plan B Sales Camaro back to the third position before the lone red flag flew on lap 142. Battling on the low side of the track proved to be Gragson’s strong suit as he drove his Camaro to the second position, where he finished Stage Two, earning nine additional stage points.

Final Stage:

During the final stage-break, Gragson came into the pits for four tires, fuel and no adjustments to the No. 9 Plan B Sales Camaro as they were happy with the balance of the car. Gragson came out of the pits second but restarted in the third position as the leader did not pit during the break. The bottom lane seemed to be the preferred lane as the top never took rubber and this played into Gragson’s favor as he drove around the second place car and set his eyes on teammate Justin Allgaier. The No. 9 Plan B Sales Camaro ran within car lengths of the leader during one of the longest green flag runs of the night. Gragson fell to the third position as tires began to fade, but then a yellow flag on lap 247 brought  everyone to the pits one final time. During this stop, Gragson took four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment to help free the car up for the short run.

Restarting with 45 laps remaining in the 300-lap event from the third position, Gragson was able to use the bottom lane to his advantage and drove in to the second position. The race saw yellows on lap 256 and 287 with Gragson remaining in the second position for each. On the ensuing restart, Gragson was able to keep pace with teammate Allgaier before both drivers made contact, ultimately giving Gragson the lead for an overtime finish. Extending the race by three laps, Gragson was able to set the pace and would go on to capture his second win of the year and his first short track win in the NXS.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Plan B Sales Camaro SS

“Bristol was never high on my list of tracks that we race at because I have never been great here. Dave Elenz and the No. 9 Plan B Sales team have been bringing great cars to the track for me each week, so I have had an extra dose of confidence lately and that really helped today. Everyone had confidence in me and when we were able to drive to the lead in Stage One, I knew we were going to be tough to beat. I hate that I got into Justin (Allgaier) there at the end. I want to apologize to him and the entire No. 7 team, but I’m so happy that we were able to get the win at such a historic and difficult track. We will definitely celebrate this one and I can’t wait to be able to celebrate in front of fans again when it is safe.”