The final laps of Saturday’s Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 at Pocono Raceway were an incredible display of patience and maturity from two drivers who have had some difficult incidents in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season.
Despite a number of different tire strategies, Noah Gragson and Ty Gibbs made it clear that they had the fastest cars in the field, maneuvering through the pack to get into the top-two spots late in the race.
Over the course of the final 15 laps around the 2.5-mile facility, Gibbs and Gragson were locked in an intense battle for the victory amongst themselves, and they definitely made it entertaining.
After Gibbs – who despite having older tires than Gragson was the quicker of the two cars — attempted to make a couple of moves for the lead on Gragson, but could never quite complete the move, despite coming extremely close on multiple occasions.
Video: Noah Gragson, Ty Gibbs Engage in Thrilling Side-By-Side Battle for Xfinity Series Victory at Pocono
Coming to the final laps of the event, the battle truly came to a boiling point, as Gibbs and Gragson got side-by-side on a couple of occasions, as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver attempted to make a move stick.
However, when it was all said and done, Gragson was able to defend masterfully against Gibbs, who made a last-ditch effort to get by on the final lap, which saw the pair side-by-side and sideways in the tunnel turn.
The JR Motorsports driver – who was penalized at Road America for his aggressive driving which caused a 16-car pileup — cleanly defended against Gibbs, scoring his third victory of the season and the eighth of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career.
Ty Gibbs would finish in the runner-up position, marking his 11th top-two finish in the Xfinity Series through his 37 starts.
Josh Berry rounded out the podium finishers in third place, marking his third top-three result in the last four events. AJ Allmendinger, who leads the regular-season point standings, finished fourth.
Sheldon Creed recorded his second consecutive top-five result in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a fifth-place result for the second week in a row.
JR Motorsports teammates Sam Mayer and Justin Allgaier finished sixth and seventh, marking an impressive rebound for the No. 7 who faced a speeding penalty under the final caution of the event.
Austin Hill, Daniel Hemric, and Cole Custer rounded out the top-10 in Saturday’s Xfinity Series event at Pocono Raceway. Custer, was a last-minute replacement for Joe Graf Jr, who temporarily stepped back from his driving duties because of personal issues.
The event, which pushed fairly close to darkness, featured a pair of fairly severe accidents throughout event, both accidents in which featured massive impacts for at least one driver.
On the third lap of the race, Alex Labbe and Rajah Caruth made contact exiting Turn Three, which sent both cars into the inside wall extremely hard, with vicious velocity.
Video: Rajah Caruth and Alex Labbe Okay After Spectacular Crash at Pocono
However, the biggest and most spectacular accident came at the beginning of stage three, when Santino Ferrucci got tipped around in front of the pack, which ultimately forced Ricky Stenhouse Jr into Jeb Burton, sending the No. 27 flipping down the front stretch, before landing on his roof.
Video: Jeb Burton Launched Upside Down in Vicious Multi-Car Accident at Pocono
All drivers involved in accidents in Saturday’s Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 were checked and released from the infield care center.
Exiting Pocono, AJ Allmendinger leads the regular-season point standings by 16 points over Justin Allgaier, with Ty Gibbs making gains to sit only 22 points behind in third place. JR Motorsports teammates Josh Berry and Noah Gragson round out the top five in the standings.
At the Playoff bubble, Sheldon Creed has made enormous gains on the cutline, now closing the gap within 50 points of Landon Cassill, after being over 100 points behind just three weeks ago.
Next up for the series is the Indianapolis Road Course, as the NASCAR Xfinity Series tackles another road course with its full-time drivers and teams, as well as a plethora of NASCAR Cup Series drivers who are expected to compete.