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Noah Gragson Survives Martinsville To Fight For Championship

After picking up the big win under the lights at Martinsville Speedway, Noah Gragson and his JR Motorsports squad will compete for a championship in Arizona. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

Noah Gragson survived double overtime, some drama and a last-lap dash by Austin Cindric to win the Dead On Tools 250 at Martinsville Speedway, securing a spot in the Championship 4.

“I told my guys that we’ve got an opportunity,” Gragson said.

“We’re still in it. I’m so thankful. It’s just such an awesome opportunity. Second win here at Martinsville. Get to take home a clock. This team’s unbelievable.”

After struggling with brake issues for the entire race, Justin Haley lost control and looped it. This erased Daniel Hemric’s lead with six laps remaining, which gave Gragson the chance he needed to finish the job.

“I’m emotional right now. This is Martinsville, baby! We’re going to the final four baby!”

Justin Haley’s Championship 4 hopes went up in flames as the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet battled brake issues. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

Before the start of the final stage, Haley’s No. 11 Chevrolet ran into some major problems with the brakes and it caught fire on pit road.

Haley took the car to the garage and later returned to the race multiple laps down. This effectively ended his hopes of fighting for a NASCAR Xfinity Series title.

With 50 laps remaining, one driver received the chrome horn. Ty Gibbs was leading at the time until Gragson spun the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra out of the lead.

Then, Gibbs got hit by his JGR teammate and playoff driver Harrison Burton, causing major damage to Burton’s hood.

“We had a winning car today,” Burton said.

“Just so many things have to go right in racing to win that it makes it challenging to do on the drop of a dime. We just had a couple things go wrong. It’s just a bummer deal that we didn’t get to show our speed at the end. Wish we could have won this thing.”

Although he did not advance to the Championship 4, Harrison Burton left it all on the track at Martinsville. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

The red flag came out with 55 laps to go, following a crash that collected several competitors. Spencer Boyd stayed out on older tires, stacking up the field on the restart and a tight squeeze on a restart collected the likes of Michael Annett, Jeb Burton, Riley Herbst and Brett Moffitt.

Stage 2

A stage win for Noah Gragson was an early sign of better things to come later in the race. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

A relatively tame Stage 2 saw it end with a photo finish between Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton fighting through lapped traffic at the Paperclip.

Ultimately, Gragson edged out Burton to secure the stage win.

Due to their performances in the first two stages, Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger were able to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 next weekend at Phoenix on points.

Stage 2 Results: Gragson, H. Burton, Gibbs, J. Burton, Cindric, Hemric, Allmendinger, Herbst, Clements, Snider.

Stage 1

Austin Cindric did exactly what he needed to do, in order to advance to the Championship 4. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

Austin Cindric earned 10 valuable stage points to lessen his stress levels, with the Stage 1 victory allowing him to maintain a comfortable margin over the cutline, in case bad luck struck later in the race.

Sam Mayer ran into trouble on Lap 60 when he made contact with rival Ty Gibbs, causing damage to the No. 8 Chevrolet’s right-front.

On Lap 14, Preston Pardus went around for a spin and did not hit anything, in his NASCAR oval racing debut.

Stage 1 Results: Cindric, Hemric, Allgaier, Allmendinger, Berry, Sieg, Gragson, Annett, Yeley, Moffitt.

Championship 4

Noah Gragson’s savors the moment, after shotgunning a beer given to him by a fan in the grandstands. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

Heading to the desert for the final race of the 2021 season, four NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will battle for a championship.

Austin Cindric is trying to defend his title and go back-to-back, before graduating to Team Penske’s NASCAR Cup Series program in 2022.

“I’ve said it throughout the year last year and throughout the year this year, making the Champ 4 is the hardest thing you can do in a national series and at Phoenix, in the final race it’s about having your best day,” Cindric said.

“We have the opportunity to go do that and have some fun.”

But the 2020 Xfinity champion will have to hold off AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson if he wants to repeat. Those three drivers are seeking their first NASCAR Xfinity championship.

Once again, Daniel Hemric saw his first career win slip away, but he still gets to compete for a championship in Phoenix. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

Coverage of the Xfinity Series season finale at Phoenix Raceway gets underway on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Dead On Tools 250 Top-10 Results: Gragson, Cindric, Hemric, Mayer, Allgaier, Jones, Allmendinger, Labbe, Clements, Herbst.

Kobe Lambeth is a 2021 graduate of UNC Charlotte, who earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. In February 2007, he initially developed a strong passion for motorsports. His childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time. In June 2017, his journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. He was a part of expanded coverage of high school football within his local community. Through the use of Twitter, his team had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts. At The Podium Finish, he intends to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as the NASCAR Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series and more. He's also a Freelance Editor at NASCAR Digital Media and Multimedia Producer at GRID Network

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