Noah Gragson scored his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory on Saturday in the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway. Gragson, who overcame a pit road speeding penalty during Stage 2, took advantage of a late-race restart to charge into the lead on the final lap and hold off the field until a caution halfway down the backstretch secured the victory for the Bass Pro Shops/True Timber/Black Rifle Coffee team. With the win, Gragson becomes just the seventh driver to claim his first NXS victory with JR Motorsports.
Stage One Finish: 4th
Gragson fired off in 12th for the 120-lap event and quickly wheeled his way into the top five within the opening 10 laps. The first yellow flag of the day would fly on lap 19 and Gragson reported to crew chief Dave Elenz that his car was too loose. The team took four tires, fuel and adjusted the trackbar as a result during the caution period to help tighten up the No. 9 Camaro. Gragson would restart in 20th using an alternate pit strategy but would rally in the closing laps of the stage to finish Stage One in the fourth position, earning seven stage points.
Stage Two Finish: 28th
Lining up in the 30th position, after a pit road penalty for speeding, Gragson would rapidly move his way to the top 15 before a yellow on lap 37. The team opted to pit for fuel only during this caution, moving Gragson back to 27th for the restart. Gragson would work the high and low lines as he drove up to the top 10 with minimal laps remaining in the stage. The No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Camaro would finish Stage 2 in ninth, earning an extra two stage points.
Elenz would bring Gragson back to pit road at the stage break for another fuel only stop. The No. 9 would jump to second, riding behind teammate Jeb Burton, as the green flew. Gragson would ride behind Burton until a pit stop on lap 81, in which Gragson would leave the pits first among the group. After the pit strategies cycled out, Gragson would take the lead with less than 20 laps remaining. A late-race yellow would fly with 13 laps to go and the team would stay out on track. After falling to second, behind Chase Briscoe on the restart, another yellow would come out, this time with seven laps remaining. Briscoe and Gragson would battle for the last three laps of the race, with Gragson prevailing as the victor, earning five playoff points.
Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet
“I can’t believe I just won at Daytona. I’m just a kid from Nevada who started racing at 13 years old in Bandeleros and now I am a champion at Daytona. It’s unbelievable and it’s not supposed to happen. This team at JR Motorsports gave me the best car possible and Dave Elenz made some great calls to get me out to the front. Spotter Earl Barban called a great race for me and I couldn’t have done it without him and everyone’s support at JRM, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevy along with our partners Bass Pro Shops, TrueTimber and Black Rifle Coffee Company who came on board this year. I’m going to soak this one in but also get ready to get back to victory lane again soon.