Gragson Win
Gragson celebrates in victory lane (Photo: David Moulthrop).

Gragson Tops Gibbs In Intense Pocono Duel

After a riveting 14-lap battle, Noah Gragson defeated Ty Gibbs to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Gragson held off two charges from Gibbs that saw their cars side-by-side over the final seven laps.

The last came on the final lap, as Gibbs was able to get his No. 54 Toyota underneath Gragson’s No. 9 Chevy in Turn 1 of the 2.5-mile speedway.

But as they neared the “tunnel turn” in Turn 2, Gibbs got loose and Gragson was able to slip in front and race to the win. It was a clean finish for two drivers who have a history of getting into each other, specifically at Portland in June.

It is Gragson’s third Xfinity win of the season and his first at the “Tricky Triangle.” 

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Noah Gragson’s team climbs the fence at Pocono (Photo: Dave Moulthrop)

“That was probably the best I’ve ever driven there,” an out of breath Gragson told NBC Sports. “Man, I’m worn out. It really wasn’t that long of a race. Just working my ass off to keep (Gibbs) back. He’s pretty fast. (Crew chief) Luke Lambert and the rest of this …. team did an unbelievable job with coming down pit road (on the last pit stop) and putting four tires on. Man, I had to work for it. It was tough. … With 15 to go I didn’t think I could hold him off. … I’m exhausted.”

For Gibbs,  his runner-up finish comes after placing 35th at Atlanta (wreck) and 21st At New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“It definitely hurt us being on a tire advantage,” Gibbs said. “Surprised to be hanging with (Gragson) when he was on right (side tires). I had a great car, just didn’t put it together. I just made some mistakes.”

The top five was completed by Josh Berry, AJ Allmendinger and Sheldon Creed. Both of Creed’s top-five finishes this season have come in the last two weeks.

Sam Mayer bounced back from two flat tires to finish sixth while pole-sitter Justin Allgaier was seventh.

The top 10 was completed by Austin Hill, Daniel Hemric and Cole Custer.

The first caution of the race quickly came on Lap 3. Alpha Prime Racing’s Rajah Caruth got into the left-rear of Alex Labbe as they exited Turn 3. Both got loose and then slid into the pit wall, with Labbe bouncing off it hard, briefly spinning in the air before landing on all four tires.

Both drivers were eliminated.

“I just messed up,” Caruth told NBC Sports. “It was really early. … I just can’t believe I did that. Just very disappointed.”

The race resumed on Lap 8 with Allgaier retaining the lead.

The JR Motorsports driver would go on to win the stage over Brandon Jones and Allmendinger. Gibbs and Creed rounded out the top five.

Allgaier would lose eight spots during the first pit stop of the day for an issue as his left-side tires were changed. Jones came out ahead of Creed, Gragson and Allmendinger. Anthony Alfredo stayed out, but quickly lost the lead to Gragson on the Lap 26 restart.

On Lap 29, Mayer made an unscheduled pit stop due to a flat right-rear tire, his second of the race.

After holding off a brief challenge from Gibbs, Gragson went on to win the stage.

Under the caution, Hill and Myatt Snider stayed out of the pits. But Snider pit before the green flag due to a mechanical issue, putting Gragson on the front row.

On the Lap 46 restart, Gragson retook the lead.

The very next lap saw a violent five-car wreck at the exit of Turn 3 that ended with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s No. 48 hitting Jeb Burton’s No. 27 car nose first, causing it to flip onto its roof and sliding down the frontstretch. Burton was unharmed and exited the car after it was flipped back over by safety crews.

“We don’t have a lot of cars, to tear up a car two weeks in a row isn’t good,” Burton said.

 

The wreck began when Santino Ferrucci got loose and spun before collecting the other cars.

“I just made a mistake. Not how I wanted my day to end,” Ferrucci said, citing that as a part-time driver it’s hard for him to learn the side draft of the Xfinity cars.

The race resumed with 40 laps to go. Two laps later, the caution returned when Sammy Smith’s No. 18 Toyota got loose running next to Landon Cassill’s No. 10 car, spun and backed into the Turn 1 wall.

During the caution the first seven cars off pit road, led by Ty Gibbs, didn’t take tires. Jones took two and Gragson took four.

The race resumed with 34 laps to go as Herbst quickly overtook Gibbs and Brett Moffitt, who stayed out, for the lead. 

Herbst would lose the lead to Berry with 30 laps to go. Five laps later Gragson had moved into second and Herbst has fallen to fifth.

A lap later, Gragson finally got around Berry for the lead as they went into Turn 3. With 15 laps to go, it became a race between Gragson and Gibbs.

 

 

 

 

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