By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor
Noah Gragson had high hopes coming into Saturday afternoon’s SRS Distribution 250 at Texas Motor Speedway. The JR Motorsports driver had already won two races so far in the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and had finished in the top 10 in his last three trips to Texas.
Gragson qualified on the pole position and led the field to the green flag to start the race. Though teammate Justin Allgaier was able to get by him for a few laps, Gragson took back the top position and went on to win Stage 1, his sixth stage win of the season.
Most of the lead lap cars pitted after the caution flag flew to end the stage. The No. 9 team would lose a few spots on pit road, costing Gragson the lead. He would not return to the lead for the rest of the race, though he was able to finish in the fifth position at the end of Stage 2.
It was after the start of the last stage where things went wrong.
Leader Josh Berry took the green flag alongside Allgaier, but got sideways in turn one after the restart and spun out in front of the field.
Ty Gibbs – who was back around seventh place — was to Gragson’s inside when Berry spun. Gibbs swerved up the track to avoid making contact with the No. 48 of Tyler Reddick as Reddick slowed down to avoid Berry. The No. 54 of Gibbs slammed into the side of the No. 9 of Gragson, causing both drivers to spin out.
Around goes Josh Berry from the front as Noah Gragson & Ty Gibbs get a part of it! pic.twitter.com/QSU8kAw3pB
— Xfinity Racing (@XfinityRacing) May 21, 2022
Gragson sustained heavy rear-end damage after getting into the outside wall, forcing him to head to pit road for repairs. The No. 9 crew members worked extensively on the car to make it raceable for Gragson, but the damage proved to be too much to handle, as Gragson spun out again just a few laps after the restart, sustaining even more rear end damage.
The damage was so severe, Gragson would have to crab-walk his car to the garage area and retire from the race. He would be credited with a 36th-place finish, his worst result of the 2022 season.
“I’m fine, just self-inflicted there,” said Gragson while speaking with FS1’s Jamie Little. “We lost spots on pit road both times down and you’re in a different position than if you maintain. Overall, very thankful for everybody on this Bass Pro Shops team. I guess the only positive is we got a playoff point with the stage win but it definitely sucks.”
Gragson is now 44 points behind leader AJ Allmendinger in the points standings heading into next week’s Alsco Uniforms 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The race will take place on Saturday, May 28th at 12:00PM ET and will be broadcast live on FS1, PRN, and SiriusXM.
Photo Credit: Rachel Schuoler