N News & Results

Xfinity at Richmond: Second win in a row for Gragson

Richmond, VA, Sept 11/21 (GRW): In a race where the results hinged on decisions on when to take on fresh tires, Noah Gragson’s team lucked out. Gragson had no more fresh tires when the yellow came out with 25 laps to go but his crew chief brought him in for the next best thing – 18 lap used tires that had cooled down. Gragson was back in the third row when racing resumed but he had better tires and he was gaining positions.

Two more yellows in the closing laps saw him moving forward and taking the lead for the final restart with seven laps remaining. He was able to hand on and hold off a charging Justin Haley (who was also benefitting from a late race tire change) by 0.4 seconds to win the race. Having won last week at Darlington, this was Gragson’s second race win in a row – after going winless previously – making his chances at the championship look a lot better now.

“I knew they [Haley] had tires, but the thing that really kept us alive were those two cautions at the end,” said Gragson, who now has four career Xfinity Series wins.

Before all this happened it looked like Harrison Burton had the race as good as won – he had a lead over Ty Gibbs and they had recently taken on fresh tires so no one had the tire advantage over them at that point. Had the race gone green the rest of the way, it looked like Burton had the race in the bag with Gibbs trailing in behind them. However, when the yellow flew on lap 224, all the front runners pitted for new tires or cold scuffs and this renewed the hopes of the other drivers. Gragson and Halley were the beneficiaries of this turn of events while Burton and Gibbs ended up ninth and seventh place.

John Hunter Nemechek was third, Justin Allgaier was fourth and Riley Herbst fifth.

The regular season points leader Austin Cindric started first and he led 50 laps in the early running but then he struggled as the race went on and he ended up in 16th place. It sure seems like the hot hand he had earlier in the season has gone cold; it is hard to picture him as a favourite to win the championship once the playoffs begin. The other driver favoured to win the title is A.J. Allmendinger. He led for 39 laps early on but later he slid back and he finished in 18th place.

Allmendinger’s first Stage win helped extend his regular season points lead over Cindric by five points.

Next week’s Xfinity race at Bristol on Friday, September 17th is the final race in the ‘regular season’. After that the seven-race elimination playoff series will begin at Las Vegas a week later.

• Click HERE for the Race Results

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