In a series as competitive as the modern-day NASCAR Xfinity Series, it isn’t often you see a single driver and/or organization rise to the level of domination that JR Motorsports and Noah Gragson have this season.
The 24-year-old, who has already been tapped to compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series for Petty GMS Motorsports next season, has continued to show the world that he’s ready to go head-to-head against the sport’s best drivers on Sundays.
Saturday at Texas, Gragson not only further drove his point home, but joined elite company in NASCAR Xfinity Series history, capturing his fourth consecutive victory in the second-tier series, after winning races at Darlington, Kansas, and Bristol.
Leading a race-high 85 of 200 laps, the Las Vegas, Nevada-native was able to take control of the race from the beginning, after Brandon Jones was turned sideways by Daniel Hemric in the race’s first set of corners.
Although Gragson would give up the lead throughout the majority of the race’s early portion, the JR Motorsports driver would come back into the picture when the pay window opened, returning to the lead just before the race’s halfway points.
Gragson’s competition would extensively thin out during the opening portion of the race’s final stage, as a couple of multi-car accidents took out front-runners like John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Allgaier, and Brandon Jones.
With the field significantly shrunk down, the race’s rhythm was easily found, with the 300-mile event boasting a 72-lap green-flag run to the finish, which included a rare sight in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, a set of green flag pit stops.
The final lead change of the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 occurred with just 12 laps to go, when Gragson was able to pass Jeb Burton for the lead, as Burton was on an alternate strategy, hoping to catch a caution as the race reached its closing laps.
From there, it was smooth sailing for Gragson, who captured his seventh NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the year by 1.238 seconds over Austin Hill, who finished in the runner-up position for Richard Childress Racing.
After starting at the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments, Ty Gibbs was able to rebound to score a third-place finish, despite being a non-factor in the second half of the event.
AJ Allmendinger was able to rebound from receiving damage in an accident at the beginning of stage three to finish in fourth, while Riley Herbst picked up his second straight top-five result in fifth.
Josh Berry and Sheldon Creed were able to ride the strategy out to the end of the race to finish in sixth and seventh, while Sam Mayer recovered from major damage from hitting the wall to finish eighth. Ryan Sieg was able to secure a ninth-place finish, after also being collected in an accident.
Rounding out the top-10 finishers in Saturday’s event was CJ McLaughlin, who despite being the reason for the race’s second of nine cautions at Lap 38, was able to play the strategy just right to come home in 10th.
Brandon Jones (27th), Justin Allgaier (29th), Daniel Hemric (30th), and Jeremy Clements (36th) were the four Playoff drivers that finished outside of the top-10.
Clements, who came in as a long-shot to advance to the next round, suffered mechanical issues, forcing him to retire 79 laps into the 200-lap event.
Next for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is likely the post-season’s biggest wild card, Talladega Superspeedway, where all Playoff eligible drivers will be attempting to avoid the massive crash that looms known as “The Big One”.