Gragson Rebounds After Crash, Leads JRM at Talladega

JR Motorsports | 4/27/2019

Armour Brett Moffitt Hellmann's ISMConnect Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Talladega TMC Walmart XFINITY Series

Noah Gragson picked up his first career stage victory and battled back after a crash to finish 11th and lead JRM on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Race 9 of 33: MoneyLion 300 at Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile tri-oval / 113 laps
Weather: Sunny; 79 degrees
Race Winner: Tyler Reddick

Gragson's Finish: 11th
Moffitt's Finish: 13th
Allgaier's Finish: 28th
Annett's Finish: 31st

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Armour Vienna Sausage Chevrolet Camaro, won the second stage of Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Talladega Superspeedway and overcame an incident during the final stage to improve 11 positions over the final two laps to earn a hard-fought 11th-place finish. With the stage-two victory, Gragson has now earned one playoff point and has improved to ninth in the championship standings.

Gragson took the green flag for the 113-lap event from the 14th position and maintained his track position inside the lead pack until the first caution flag of the day was displayed on lap 7. During this caution period, crew chief Dave Elenz called the 20-year-old driver to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment, sending Gragson back out for the lap 11 restart in the 33rd position. Once back underway, the driver of the Armour Vienna Sausage Chevrolet wasted little time moving forward, taking advantage of the middle lane to improve 22 positions over the final 14 laps of Stage One to take the green-and-white checkered flag in ninth on lap 25. The stage-ending result also earned Gragson two valuable stage points.

Prior to the beginning of Stage Two, Elenz called Gragson back to pit road for fuel only, which moved the driver of the Armour Vienna Sausage Chevrolet up to the second position for the lap 31 restart. After initially battling for the race lead with JRM teammate Justin Allgaier, Gragson powered ahead with help from the outside lane to move into sole possession of the lead. Once out front, the Las Vegas, Nev. native took command over the pack, as the field followed in toe behind Gragson on the outside of a single-file line of cars. The field remained in that lock-step formation behind the JRM driver until the final lap of the caution-free stage. During the final lap, Gragson had to fend off challenges from both the inside and outside lanes to secure the stage victory and earn an extremely valuable playoff point.

However, Gragson’s run to the stage victory did come at a slight cost as the Rookie of the Year contender was forced to come to pit road immediately after taking the green-and-white checkered flag to get debris cleared off of the grill of an overheating Armour Vienna Sausage Chevrolet.

Due to the early stop on pit road, Gragson had to begin the third and final stage from the rear of the field in the 29th position. Despite finding himself now in the back of the lead pack, Gragson persevered, needing only four laps to improve 18 positions before a caution on lap 66 provided Elenz with another opportunity to bring the No. 9 back to pit road. Gragson lined up for the ensuing restart following the fuel-only stop in ninth and continued to fight for track position in the pack until contact with the No. 2 exiting the tri-oval on lap 85 sent the Armour Vienna Sausage Chevrolet sliding into the inside retaining wall, causing damage to the left-front fender and splitter.

After pitting several times for repairs during the subsequent caution, Gragson was scored in the 31st position, two laps behind the leaders. Utilizing a never-give-up attitude, Gragson once again pressed forward and raced into the free pass position despite being two laps down and was able to take advantage of consecutive cautions on laps 102 and 108 to get back on the lead lap.

Now back on the lead lap Gragson’s final charge began, as the driver of the Armour Vienna Sausage Chevrolet improved 11 positions in the final two laps to score an 11th-place finish.

With the result, Gragson now sits ninth in the championship standings following the first nine events of the NXS season.

Tyler Reddick earned the victory, with Gray Gaulding, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Armour Vienna Sausage team

“Today was a battle. We fought hard all race long and had a really fast Armour Vienna Sausage Camaro. It was great to get out front and lead some laps and get that stage win. It’s just unfortunate that we ran into that issue through the tri-oval. It was one of those things where there was nothing I could really do. I just want to thank Dave (Elenz, crew chief) and all my guys on this JR Motorsports team for all of their hard work and for never giving up. Today wasn’t the result we should’ve had, but it shows the fight this group has to rebound from the spin and damage to the fender to still come home 11th.”

Brett Moffitt

Brett Moffitt’s JR Motorsports debut in the No. 8 ISMConnect Chevrolet netted a 13th-place finish in Saturday’s MoneyLion 300 at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Moffitt spent the bulk of the day slicing and dicing his way through traffic, eyeing the right time to make a move, but a fuel pickup issue in the closing laps negated the team’s top-10 run.

Starting the day from the sixth position, Moffitt quickly found himself spearheading a charge from the top lane before settling into the middle groove in the opening laps. He worked his way into fifth before the first caution flag slowed the field on lap eight. Moffitt reported the ISMConnect entry as being “real free all the way through the corner” and because of that wanted to avoid the bottom lane. But after taking the restart that’s exactly where he found himself and dropped to 12th as a result and finished out Stage One in 17th.

Holding to their original strategy, crew chief Taylor Moyer called the No. 8 to pit road for a fuel-only stop and Moffitt lined up for the ensuing restart in eighth. The field settled into single-file racing and he spent the bulk of the second stage shuffling just in and out of the top 10, taking the Stage Two conclusion in 13th

Under the stage-ending caution, Moffitt hit pit road for four tires and fuel and returned to the racing surface in 13th for the restart. Back up to speed, Moffitt briefly found progress in the middle of three-wide racing and maintained his restart position. Following another caution that brought the ISMConnect Chevy to pit road to top off on fuel with 47 laps remaining, the No. 8 could now go the distance on fuel. Moffitt worked as high as ninth once back to green-flag racing as the field again strung out single file.

As the laps wound down, the field clustered back to three-wide racing. With Moffitt racing just outside the top 10, he narrowly avoided a multi-car melee initiated by the 22 of Austin Cindric on lap 96. A series of cautions followed, one of which eventually brought out the red flag with only two laps remaining.

When the red flag was lifted and Moffitt began rolling, he reported having trouble attaining a solid fuel pressure reading. He spent a few tense moments under caution weaving the car aggressively to get fuel in the pickup but radioed that the motor was “sputtering”. When the field took the final restart, Moffitt, scored in ninth, was forced to fall out of line until the No. 8 picked up enough fuel to fire off. It took a quarter of lap to happen and by that time Moffitt was shown in 13th, where he took the checkered flag.

Tyler Reddick won the race and was followed the line by Gray Gaulding, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe and Cindric.

Brett Moffitt, driver No. 8 ISMConnect team

“I’ve got to give everyone on this ISMConnect team a lot of credit. It was a privilege to be able to drive for JR Motorsports this weekend. Talladega can be a frustrating place, but the guys put together a good car for us and it was just a matter of trying to position yourself at the right time. We were in position for a top 10 and I hate that we weren’t able to make it happen. But I learned a lot today racing with these guys and hopefully I’ll get another shot at it.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier had a strong Hellmann’s / Walmart Fight Hunger Spark Change Chevy in Saturday’s MoneyLion 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, but a multi-car incident took him out of the race with less than 10 laps to go. The JR Motorsports driver was scored with a 28th-place finish and currently sits fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings.

Allgaier rolled off the grid 11th for the NXS race and was running in the 10th position when the first caution flag of the day came out on lap 8. Crew chief Jason Burdett called the driver of the No. 7 to pit road for fuel and adjustments. He restarted just outside of the top 15 and worked his way back inside the top 10 to finish Stage One in sixth on lap 25.

The team opted to stay out under the stage-ending caution and Allgaier took the green flag for Stage Two in the top spot on lap 32. He slid up to the top line behind his JRM teammate Noah Gragson into the second position as the lead pack of cars went single file for much of the stage. When the green-and-white checkered flag waved on lap 50, Allgaier was scored with the runner-up spot, collecting valuable stage points for the second time of the day.

When pit road opened, Allgaier came down for four tires and fuel. He was in the ninth position to start the final stage on lap 55. The 32-year-old driver moved up to the top line on lap 62 as much of the field went back to single-file racing. The caution flag came out once again on lap 66 and the team made another stop for fuel only.

He restarted in seventh on lap 72 and lost some positions as he was stuck on the bottom without much drafting help. When a spot opened up in the top line, Allgaier made his way up to join the preferred lane. He decided to move back to the bottom lane and a few others followed, giving the bottom some momentum. Others followed suit and Allgaier led the group forward until he was side-by-side with the leader on lap 83. He took over the race lead on lap 85 and was still out front when another caution flag waved on lap 85.

Under the yellow, Burdett told Allgaier to save fuel. He restarted in the lead, but the No. 98 got out ahead of him, taking over the top spot. Just a few laps later, a multi-car wreck ensued and Allgaier was collected in the chaos. His Chevy only suffered minor damage and he was able to make it to pit road for repairs. He restarted in 23rd and made his way to 20th before another caution came out on lap 103.

Allgaier was in 20th when the field went back to green with seven laps to go and was powering back towards the front when he got caught up in another big wreck, bringing an early end to his day. The driver of the No. 7 was scored with a 28th-place finish.

Tyler Reddick won the race and was followed by Gray Gaulding and Christopher Bell, with Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 Hellmann’s / Walmart Fight Hunger Spark Change team

“That was an unfortunate way to end our day. Everybody at JR Motorsports has been working hard and it’s been a tough week with Miss Brenda passing away. We wanted to go to Victory Lane for her as much as anything today. We had a great Hellmann’s / Walmart Fight Hunger Spark Change Chevy. I’m just disappointed we don’t have anything to show for it.”

Michael Annett

After winning his first pole in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, leading 10 laps of the MoneyLion 300 and having a great shot at his second straight restrictor-plate victory, Michael Annett’s day ended in the garage as the victim of a typical Talladega Superspeedway crash. The damage to his No. 1 TMC Transportation Chevrolet was significant and could not be repaired in time to rejoin the 113-lap event.

Running fifth on lap 94, Annett was in the bottom lane and fending off challenges from behind as things got racy that close to the finish. Austin Cindric, one of the cars coming from the middle groove, was hard on Annett’s bumper as the lead pack reached Turn 3. Cindric stayed buried in the rear bumper and hooked the right rear as Annett moved to enter the corner. The contact sent the No. 1 TMC Transportation Chevrolet toward the wall at a 45-degree angle, directly into the side of JRM teammate Justin Allgaier’s machine. The resulting melee also caught up Cole Custer, Stephen Leicht, Cody Ware and Ryan Sieg in the aftermath. The right front of Annett’s No. 1 was heavily damaged, and the force of the impact with Allgaier and the wall affected some components in the steering and suspension and forced Annett from the event with a 31st-place finish.

Before that happened, the day could not have gone better for the 32-year-old Iowa driver. He easily won the pole in single-car qualifying earlier in the day, the first of the season for JR Motorsports and the team’s first on the 2.66-mile superspeedway, then bided his time in the draft through the first two stages to get to the final run to the checkered flag.

 

On the initial start, Annett held his line behind fellow front-row starter Tyler Reddick and was running fifth four laps in when he lost his drafting help and faded to 20th. A caution four laps later allowed Annett to come to pit road for fuel, and he finished the 25-lap Stage One in 22nd place. Pitting again on the break, Annett took four tires and more fuel, gaining six spots on pit road. A pair of penalties ahead of him and a late dive to pit road by another competitor saw him take the green flag from 13th spot. Using the draft, he hooked up with JR Motorsports teammate Brett Moffitt to get some traction on the low line as the stage unfolded, racing up to ninth by the time the green-checkered waved at lap 50. That was good for a pair of stage points as well.

Coming to pit road again on the break, crew chief Travis Mack called for right-side tires only and the pit crew got him out third among the cars that pitted. When the field ran under the green flag at lap 56 to start the remainder of the race, Annett dropped to fifth on the first lap as the lines got sorted out and then led the bottom serial to the front. He took the lead from Christopher Bell on lap 57 and held it until the caution waved again 10 laps later for debris in Turn 1. When pit lane opened on lap 68, Mack called his driver down for a splash of fuel to the end and sent him back out second, again behind Bell. David Starr had stayed out under caution and assumed the race lead, putting Annett third for the restart.

After making short work of Starr, Annett rejoined his chase of the leader on the top line until the caution waved again on lap 86 for JRM teammate Noah Gragson’s spin off the tri-oval.  Annett stayed on the track, saving fuel, until the race got back under way at lap 92 and set up the chain of events that would see him eliminated in the lap-95 crash.

Reddick won the race and the $100,000 Xfinity Dash4Cash bonus, followed by Gray Gaulding, Bell, Chase Briscoe and Cindric. In addition to Annett’s 10 laps led, JRM’s Gragson led 19 and Allgaier led 13 for a total of 42 on the day.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 TMC Transportation team

“We had a really fast TMC Transportation Chevrolet today, we won the pole and had a great chance to win this race, which we all really wanted to do for Brenda Jackson, the angel that was riding with us. We were good on fuel, had the race lead in our sights and we got turned at the entry to Turn 3. There was nothing I could do once he (Cindric) hooked the right rear, and it shot us straight up the track and right into our teammate. We are locked in, so we’re good, but this one hurts. We’ll head on to Dover and try to get one back.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • July 27 05:00 PM ET
    U.S. Cellular 250Iowa Speedway
  • August 3 03:00 PM ET
    Zippo 200Watkins Glen International
  • August 10 03:00 PM ET
    B&L Transport 170 at Mid-OhioMid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • August 16 07:30 PM ET
    Food City 300Bristol Motor Speedway
  • August 24 03:00 PM ET
    CTECH Manufacturing 180Road America

XFINITY Series Standings

After ROXOR 200

New Hampshire Motor Speedway | 7/20/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick8120
2Christopher Bell756-56
3Cole Custer736-76
4Justin Allgaier666-146
5Austin Cindric649-163
6Noah Gragson #596-216
7Chase Briscoe #568-244
8Michael Annett567-245