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Noah Gragson gets quick redemption with NASCAR Truck Series victory at Kansas

by Mike Haag | Posted on Saturday, May 12th, 2018

Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite Toyota, poses with the winner’s decal in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

 

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – There are times when redemption is swift and merciful.

Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

A week after throwing away a chance to win at Dover with a wreck of his own making, Noah Gragson scored his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of the season, beating his car owner, Kyle Busch, to the finish line in the 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway.

Starting from the pole for the second straight race, Gragson led 128 of 167 laps in his No. 18 Toyota, swept all the stages of the event and collected the second NCWTS victory of his career.

“This is such a relief for a driver who had a hard week last week battling for the win,” said Gragson, who was running side by side with Johnny Sauter at Dover when he lost control of his truck and backed into the outside wall. “We came back strong this weekend. Two consecutive poles. We led the most laps today.

“Man, this is a pretty damn cool moment.”

Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

After passing Busch and third-place finisher Stewart Friesen on Lap 157—thanks to a four-tire call by crew chief Rudy Fugle during a green-flag pit stop on lap 134—Gragson took the lead for good when Myatt Snider ran out of gas with five laps left.

Snider was one of five drivers trying to stretch fuel to the end of the race. One by one they fell by the wayside, but not before muddying the waters in the closing laps.

“After the pit stop, I thought I was going to be the leader, but they told me that (fifth-place finisher) Johnny (Sauter) was stretching it on fuel,” Gragson said. “So I said, ‘OK, maybe I’m running second.’ Then they said the 52 (Friesen) and the 4 (Busch) are a half a lap ahead of you.

Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

“And I thought that was for the lead when I passed the 4 and I passed the 52, and then they said the 13 (Snider) was the leader. And I said, ‘Dang, how many leaders are there going to be?”

As it turned out Snider was the last one, and Gragson had come full circle from his mistake at Dover.

Johnson Hunter Nemechek came home fourth, followed by Sauter and Matt Crafton. Cody Coughlin, Grant Enfinger, Brandon Jones and Justin Haley completed the top 10.

With 23 laps left, Friesen forced Busch down to the infield grass in the tri-oval, costing Busch a chance to pass the No. 52 Chevrolet and put distance between himself and Gragson.

Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite Toyota, leads the field to green during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Busch had taken right-side tires only on his green-flag stop on Lap 139, and Gragson methodically caught his car owner, making what proved to be the winning pass with 10 laps left.

“The truck felt good after about 15 laps, but it took too long to come in,” Busch said. “And there on that last run, we didn’t make enough adjustments. We took two tires and we got way too tight.

“But awesome run by Noah and those guys. They deserve it—they’re fast. They needed a boost and they got one. They’re going to race for a championship, and hopefully this will help them get going.”

Sauter retained the series lead by 35 points over Gragson.

Media Center Interviews:

Noah Gragson, Kyle Busch and Ryan Fugle – 

 

Stewart Friesen – 

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – 37 Kind Days 250
Kansas Speedway
Kansas City, Kansas
Friday, May 11, 2018

               1. (1) Noah Gragson, Toyota, 167.
               2. (6) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 167.
                3. (8) Stewart Friesen, Chevrolet, 167.
               4. (14) John Hunter Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 167.
               5. (5) Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 167.
               6. (3) Matt Crafton, Ford, 167.
               7. (2) Cody Coughlin, Chevrolet, 167.
               8. (4) Grant Enfinger, Ford, 167.
               9. (13) Brandon Jones(i), Toyota, 167.
               10. (12) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 166.
               11. (11) Dalton Sargeant #, Chevrolet, 165.
               12. (9) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 165.
               13. (19) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 164.
                14. (15) Darrell Wallace Jr. (i), Chevrolet, 164.
               15. (32) Myatt Snider #, Ford, 164.
               16. (10) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 163.
               17. (17) Justin Fontaine #, Chevrolet, 163.
               18. (7) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 162.
               19. (16) Bo LeMastus #, Toyota, 160.
               20. (31) Kyle Donahue, Chevrolet, 159.
               21. (25) Josh Reaume, Toyota, 158.
               22. (29) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 157.
               23. (28) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 157.
              24. (30) Mike Harmon(i), Chevrolet, Oil Leak, 146.
               25. (21) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 139.
               26. (27) Robby Lyons, Chevrolet, 139.
               27. (18) Wendell Chavous, Chevrolet, Suspension, 131.
               28. (26) Jamie Mosley, Chevrolet, Overheating, 66.
              29. (24) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, Transmission, 30.
               30. (22) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, Overheating, 27.
               31. (23) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 6.
               32. (20) Kevin Donahue, Chevrolet, Transmission, 0.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  134.137 mph.
Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 52 Mins, 03 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.558 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  4 for 21 laps.
Lead Changes:  13 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   N. Gragson 0; M. Crafton 1-4; N. Gragson 5-48; B. Rhodes 49; N. Gragson 50-83; J. Haley 84-87; N. Gragson 88-104; S. Friesen 105-106; N. Gragson 107-133; S. Friesen 134-137; K. Busch(i) 138; J. Sauter 139-152; M. Snider # 153-161; N. Gragson 162-167.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  N. Gragson 5 times for 128 laps; J. Sauter 1 time for 14 laps; M. Snider # 1 time for 9 laps; S. Friesen 2 times for 6 laps; M. Crafton 1 time for 4 laps; J. Haley 1 time for 4 laps; K. Busch(i) 1 time for 1 lap; B. Rhodes 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,4,16,41,98,8,51,88,21,52
Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,16,4,51,52,8,98,21,88,2

Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite Toyota, poses with the pole award after qualifying on the pole for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)

 

Grant Enfinger, driver of the #98 Protect The Harvest/Curb Records Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #4 Cessna Toyota, and Brett Moffitt, driver of the #16 Concrete Supply Toyota, during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

 

Kyle Busch, driver of the #4 Cessna Toyota, Noah Gragson, driver of the #18 Safelite Toyota, and Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Flex Seal/Menards Ford, driveduring practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway on May 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

 

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 30 years. In addition to working for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 15 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike also teaches English at Floresville High School.