By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Despite being down on power for much of the Alsco Uniforms 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Noah Gragson soldiered on to score a top-five finish.
Gragson Down on Power
The problems for Gragson’s No. 9 Bass Pro Shops / True Timber / Black Rifle Coffee Company Chevrolet Camaro SS started at the end of the first Stage. On the final restart of the Stage, the JR Motorsports (JRM) car failed to keep up its’ momentum. Gragson slipped behind two of his JRM teammates before a caution waved.
Efforts to fix the power issues made the problems for Gragson worse. Overtime it made the issue worse. Throughout the second Stage Gragson’s team worked in various directions to try and improve the situation.
“Around lap 30, 35 in the first Stage we went down a cylinder,” explained Gragson. “Really was just down on power. The eight got by me, seven got by me. There’s a caution and we finished third in the Stage. Came down [pit road] trying to fix it, but it got even worse.”
The Recovery Begins
By the end of the second Stage, the Luke Lambert (Gragson’s crew chief)-led team reversed the fixes. Once they returned the car back to the status it was at when Stage 1 ended, the car came back to life. Gragson powered through the corners but struggled on the straightaways. Despite the power struggles, he continuously picked off position after position.
“We got it back to how we ended the first Stage, which was still down a cylinder down on power,” admitted Gragson. “I could run the fence well and enter up high, probably the only guy entering right on the fence into Turn 1. Really running good lap times through the corner, a lot of speed. Get on the straightaway and they would pull me two or three car lengths.”
Taking advantage of the misfortune of some competitors combined with determination, Gragson re-entered the top-10 with about 60 laps to go. After green flag pit stops, the Las Vegas, NV native found himself just outside the top-five. Gragson took fifth from Ryan Preece before moving into fourth before the checkered flag. Though down a cylinder for 170 laps, the 23-year-old took the checkered flag in fourth.
“It took a while, but we never quit. Just really proud of the efforts that everybody on this Bass Pro Shops team,” stated Gragson. “Days like today, you could quit, but it’s not an option for us. We’re here to fight for a championship and days like today are what build you up character-wise and come back for top five finish, super proud of everyone.”
Post-race, Gragson and fellow Chevy Racing driver Jeb Burton exchanged words. The duo disagreed about an on-track incident, an attempted slide job by the current JR Motorsports driver. The banter and disagreement between the two drivers has since spilled over and onto social media.
The fourth-place finish is the ninth top-five finish for Gragson this season. It was also a milestone 50th career top-five finish for the fourth-year NASCAR Xfinity Series driver.
Gragson remains second in the championship points standings. He sits 33-points behind lead A.J. Allmendinger. Gragson is locked into the Xfinity Series playoffs by virtue of his two wins this season.
This is what happened slide job two different times and almost put me in the fence so I lifted his rear tires off the ground. Enjoy this Sunday content! pic.twitter.com/L6kkH0aTKm
— Jeb Burton (@JebBurtonRacing) May 29, 2022
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.