Connect with us


Noah Gragson Dominates, Wins Frantic Texas Playoff Race

Noah Gragson flexed his winning muscles at Texas. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Noah Gragson flexed his winning muscles at Texas. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

FORT WORTH, Texas – As a Jerry Reed song goes from 1971, in the case of Noah Gragson and his No. 9 Bass Pro Shops Chevy Camaro team, “When you’re hot, you’re hot.”

Prior to Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, Gragson tallied a three race winning streak that kicked off at Darlington on Sept. 3.

The 24-year-old Las Vegas native entered the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs opener looking to become the next Mr. September much like NASCAR Cup Series legends Jeff Gordon and Harry Gant.

For the NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, it was more of the same old scene as Roxy Music sang back in 1980. However, the road to a fourth consecutive win and seventh victory in 2022 would not be so straightforward.

From the onset, Gragson, who started second, leapt to the lead while pole sitter Brandon Jones had an “oh my heart” moment in Turn 1 on Lap 1.

Gragson led the opening 10 laps before John Hunter Nemechek took the lead on Lap 11. CJ McLaughin’s spin in Turn 2 resulted in the race’s first caution on Lap 38, leading to the first split pit strategy agenda of the afternoon.

McLaughlin, a native of Bellingham, Massachusetts, rebounded to a career best result of 10th.

Daniel Hemric capitalized on prime track position by winning Stage 1, a promising start for the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion. Meanwhile, Gragson netted a fourth place result.

Allmendinger brought the custard to Texas. (Photo: John Arndt | r/NASCAR)

Allmendinger brought the custard to Texas. (Photo: John Arndt | r/NASCAR)

A relatively smooth Stage 2, slowed by only one caution involving David Starr in a Turn 2 crash on Lap 78, saw another momentous occasion for Kaulig Racing. This time, regular season champion, AJ Allmendinger, emerged triumphant while Gragson tallied a second.

Stage 3 was a mad frenzy with multi-car accidents eliminating Playoff contenders like Hemric Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones. The complexity of the race changed into a “who’ll blink first” ahead of the No. 9 team of Gragson.

Allmendinger, who was swept up in a Lap 112 crash, found himself back in contention after his No. 16 team repaired his damaged car. As a result, the Los Gatos, California native was in a different pit strategy than Gragson, adding to the dramatics of the Playoff opener.

While Allmendinger, who took the late race lead on Lap 157, and Josh Berry, Gragson’s JR Motorsports teammate, gambled on track position, both hoped for a late race yellow to trap Gragson a lap behind them.

However, there would not be a late race caution to benefit Allmendinger and Berry. Both drivers pitted on Lap 184 for a splash and go, promoting Jeb Burton to a late but brief stint as the leader.

Ultimately, Burton pitted a few laps later with Gragson retaking the lead.

After a few heartbreaks at Texas, namely in the 2020 fall Playoff race and the spring 2022 event, Gragson reigned victorious at last.

Needless to say, Gragson was pumped up after his latest win.

A cowboy and his ice cream. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

A cowboy and his ice cream. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

“We’ve just got a bad ass Bass Pro Shops team,” Gragson said to NBC NASCAR’s Marty Snider. “This No. 9 team, man, they’re on fire. All you fans, you keep us motivated. We want to come back and win more races for you. You guys are awesome. We appreciate you. Just this team, the pit crew has done awesome. Our car was as fast as Xfinity internet all day. Just so thankful for the opportunity.

“We lost this race in 2020 and just executed a great race. Luke Lambert and the rest of the boys did a great job. Another win for the Hendrick engine shop. So thank you. Had a lot of speed under the hood.”

Beyond chasing another checkered flag, Gragson had his eyes on the prize, literally speaking.

“Last year, I was standing with Justin Haley and saw John Hunter (Nemechek) raising the Andy’s Frozen Custard trophy over his head,” he recalled. “He was like, ‘Man, I would’ve tried a little harder if I would’ve seen that trophy and knew what it was.’

“That made me motivated. I was like, ‘Damn, I want that thing too.’ So, we came back. Team did a great job. I can’t say enough about you fans. You guys are the best. Let’s go!”

Certainly, Gragson sang his praises for his team and the organization’s crew back at the shop.

“Just very grateful,” he shared. “Everybody back at JR Motorsports has been working really hard. Everybody back at the fab shop, just a really, really solid effort by all four teams. Sucks that the 7 got wrecked in that one restart but we had some strong cars.

“We’re on fire as a team right now. This No. 9 Bass Pro Shops team, thank you, Johnny Morris, JP, everybody involved. Man, I’m driving my ass off but I’m having fun while we’re doing it.”

Following the Victory Lane celebrations, Gragson was hyped up and looking forward to another Waffle House trip.

To the victor goes the waffles. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

To the victor goes the waffles. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

“Yeah, I think we’re gonna go get some waffles and probably go find a store that sells cowboy hats and buy all the guys cowboy hat,” Gragson said. “And probably my buddy Cole (Swindell), he is having a concert here. So I’m gonna go over there and hang out with him. And I don’t really know where I’m staying now that we won.

“I haven’t had a sip of alcohol yet so that’s pretty good for me at this point. But yeah, I’m just super excited and we’re gonna have some fun, that’s for sure.”

Stage 1 Top 10 Finishers


Stage 2 Top 10 Finishers


Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 Top 10 Finishers at Texas Motor Speedway


Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *