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NASCAR XFINITY Series

Gragson Fends Off Gibbs For Xfinity Win at Pocono

(Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

LONG POND, Pa. — Noah Gragson led 43 of 90 laps and fended off a determined Ty Gibbs in crunch time to win the Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 at Pocono Raceway. Gragson scored his eighth career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory and his first at “The Tricky Triangle.”

“That was probably the hardest I’ve worked in a racecar trying to hold someone off,” Gragson said after the race. “Really got to respect the way he raced us and hopefully we put on a show — that’s the most important thing.”

“I think we raced each other hard but we raced each other clean… I race guys the way they are racing us — he raced us hard and clean and we’ll continue to race him hard and clean.”

Gragson started the race from the ninth position and worked his way up to seventh at the end of Stage 1. After pitting during the stage break, Gragson roared through the field and convincingly won Stage 2 by nearly two seconds.

On the restart to commence Stage 3, Gragson jumped ahead of Ty Gibbs and began pulling away in the lead. But, just two laps later, a major crash on the frontstretch involving Jeb Burton, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Santino Ferrucci sent Burton flying onto his roof. The race was red-flagged and later restarted on Lap 50.

A few laps later, Sammy Smith and Landon Cassill crashed to bring out the fifth caution of the afternoon. After pitstops, the race restarted on Lap 57 with Riley Herbst leading and in contention for his first Xfinity victory. Josh Berry quickly piloted past Herbst on Lap 60 and took the lead.

On Lap 68, Gragson caught Berry and drove past him for the lead, setting up a long run to the finish.

“I was just getting tight. I think I just over-worked my front tires trying to pass the [Berry] car,” Gragson said. “I knew I had to pass the 8, but probably just worked a little too hard on the front tires and got too tight there. I was just doing everything that I could.”

Eventually, Gibbs passed Berry and was right behind Gragson despite running on older tires. The two battled for several laps and raced side by side for the win on the final lap. Exiting Turn 2, Gragson got a run on Gibbs on the high side and had enough of a cushion for his third win of the season.

After the race, Gragson pulled up to the frontstretch wall and his team taped an American flag onto his windshield for the burnout.

“Hopefully it looked somewhat cool,” Gragson joked. “We try to be unique and different. That’s what our team is. We’re unique and different and like having fun.”

Gibbs fell short of improving his series-best win total to five on Saturday with his runner-up finish.

“We were faster. It was very surprising how good we were, even on a tire disadvantage,” Gibbs said. “Just couldn’t get clean air. I feel like it’s just really hard to pass here, but that’s just the nature of this place. I didn’t put myself in position to get past him.

Berry finished in third place for his ninth top-five finish of the season. AJ Allmendinger finished fourth and preserved his regular-season points lead over Justin Allgaier while rookie Sheldon Creed finished fifth.

Results

STAGE 1: Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, Sheldon Creed, Josh Berry, Noah Gragson, Sammy Smith, Daniel Hemric, Austin Hill

STAGE 2: Noah Gragson, Ty Gibbs, Brandon Jones, Sheldon Creed, Josh Berry, Justin Allgaier, AJ Allmendinger, Landon Cassill, Daniel Hemric, Austin Hill

FINAL: Noah Gragson, Ty Gibbs, Josh Berry, AJ Allmendinger, Sheldon Creed, Sam Mayer, Justin Allgaier, Austin Hill, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer

Next

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the Pennzoil 150 at The Brickyard. Austin Cindric won last year’s race.

Nathan Solomon is a junior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. He serves as the managing editor for his campus newspaper, The BonaVenture, and as the programming director for his campus radio station, WSBU 88.3FM. The station is rated the No. 4 college radio station in the country by Princeton Review. Solomon started his journalism career in 2018 when he began covering hometown Cornell basketball for IvyHoopsOnline. In 2019, Solomon joined Empire Sports Media to contribute baseball content and started covering NASCAR for the outlet in 2020. In 2021, he covered his first two NASCAR races with Empire Sports Media. Solomon joined TPF in September of 2021 and became managing editor in spring of 2022. He is also an NMPA journalist.

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