Nearly Halfway to Phoenix: Gragson's Speed, Momentum Backs Up 2021 Success

Ron Lemasters | 6/16/2022

Bass Pro Shops Black Rifle Coffee News Noah Gragson TrueTimber

Gragson has found a good match in crew chief Luke Lambert as the duo have racked up a series-best nine top-five finishes this season, including two wins.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 16, 2022) -- Noah Gragson's surge to end the 2021 season in the Championship 4 continued into 2022, as the 23-year-old Nevada driver opened the season with four straight finishes in the top three, including a victory at Phoenix Raceway. He did so with a brand-new crew chief in Luke Lambert, too.

That comes as no surprise. Gragson has always had speed, and Lambert's arrival has only enhanced it.

Year over year, 2022 has started better than any of his three previous seasons, by a goodly margin. In 2021, Gragson had just four top-five and six top-10 results in the first 14 races, none of them victories. The first four races of '21 saw the young driver average a finish of 24.5, and only a fifth-place run at his home track in Las Vegas made it that high.

This season, those numbers stood at 2.0 over the first four races, with finishes of third, second, second and first in his No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet.

Over the first 14 races this year, Gragson has earned a pair of victories—at Phoenix and Talladega Superspeedway—with nine top-five and 10 top-10 results. He's also led 384 laps, tops among JRM drivers so far this season. By comparison, Gragson paced the field for 94 laps over the same 14 races in 2021.

That's a title-worthy resume with 19 races left in 2022, and Gragson has been building toward a title for the past three seasons.

The fifth race, at Atlanta, saw Gragson finish 26th, and he rebounded with a fourth-place run at Circuit of the Americas, a track at which he finished 36th a year ago.

Troubles at both Richmond (a brake issue) and Martinsville (late-race crash) negated solid performances at traditionally strong tracks for Gragson, but that led to Talladega, where Gragson found Victory Lane for the second time this season.

At Dover, Gragson finished fourth and was runner-up at Darlington to teammate Justin Allgaier. A crash not of his making at Texas put him 36th at the checkered flag. At Charlotte, Gragson led 36 laps in the opening stage before an intermittent engine issue stalled his race, but he and the Lambert-led crew fixed it in time for Gragson to earn a notable fourth-place finish.

In the most recent race, Gragson battled the elements and the track at Portland International Raceway to post a ninth-place result.

The addition of Lambert, a veteran of the NASCAR Cup Series, has been a boon for both Gragson and the No. 9 team as well as the entirety of JR Motorsports, and Gragson is making the most of it on the track so far this season.

 

Articles

image

XFINITY Series Schedule

  • October 1 04:00 PM ET
    Sparks 300Talladega Superspeedway
  • October 8 03:00 PM ET
    Drive for the Cure 250Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval
  • October 15 03:00 PM ET
    Alsco Uniforms 302Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • October 22 04:30 PM ET
    Contender Boats 250Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • October 29 03:00 PM ET
    Dead On Tools 250Martinsville Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Andy’s Frozen Custard 300

Texas Motor Speedway | 9/24/2022
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Noah Gragson (P)21070
2AJ Allmendinger (P)2081-26
3Ty Gibbs (P)2080-27
4Austin Hill # (P)2064-43
5Josh Berry (P)2058-49
6Justin Allgaier (P)2054-53
7Sam Mayer (P)2035-72