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Gragson Finishes 6th; Nets Best Result in Two Seasons


LAS VEGAS, NV – March 3, 2024 – Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo: Erik Smith | The Podium Finish)

LAS VEGAS — In his hometown race, Noah Gragson scored a sixth-place finish, marking his best NASCAR Cup Series finish in two seasons. His only finish better came in August 2022, when Gragson finished fifth in the rain-affected regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

But in just three races with Stewart-Haas Racing, Gragson already has two top 10s.

‘This Mustang Dark Horse is bitchin’. It’s fast and it’s been really good,” an excited Gragson said after the race. “You can see the speed that it’s had in qualifying, not for me because I drove like a sissy out there, but with the other guys they have three poles so far this year, so we’re going good.

“These guys are good. It feels good to do it in front of the hometown crowd. I was battling Ty [Gibbs] and Ross [Chastain] there at the end for a top five. I really wanted a top five, but coming from 30th to sixth I’m just really proud of everyone’s effort.”

Certainly, the 25-year-old had his hands full coming from the back of the field. He got his Fanttik Mustang up to 16th at the end of Stage 1 and up to 13th at the end of Stage 2. After the final green flag pit cycle commenced with about 60 to go, Gragson broke into the top 10 for the first time. A late spin by Corey LaJoie set up a restart with 27 to go, and Gragson got his best jump of the day. He launched back into the top 10 and nearly stole a top five.

Still, there’s work to be done for Gragson.

(Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

“We definitely need to be better and I need to clean some stuff up,” he explained. “Really, other than that last restart, I don’t think I had any net gains on restarts, so I need to keep working on that. I’m still trying to figure it all out, but overall it’s a good stepping stone to where we’re at right now. We’re gonna take this and get back into the positives in points and just keep on working, keep on learning and becoming better than we were yesterday and just keep that attitude. I think we’ve got the tightest group in the garage. They’re awesome to work with and I love every one of them.

“This compared to last year just has a lot more speed. You can go where you want. We’ve got a good pit crew and just a good team.”

Gragson started 21 races for LEGACY Motor Club last year before getting suspended after liking a racially insensitive post online. He finished in the top 20 just once and had six DNFs. In 2022, he made 16 starts between Beard Motorsports, Kaulig Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, replacing the injured Alex Bowman in the latter.

After finishing ninth in this year’s Daytona 500 and wrecking at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Gragson’s No. 10 team got hit with a penalty for modified roof rail deflectors. He lost 35 driver and owner points, along with Ryan Preece’s No. 41 team for the same infraction. Gragson entered Las Vegas with negative six points, but his 31-point effort on Sunday got him back to 31st overall.

Kyle Larson won his 24th Cup Series race and earned his second in a row at Las Vegas.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 10 for the Shriners Children’s 500. The race is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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