Noah Gragson had to make a sacrifice to win Monday night’s rescheduled Cheddar’s 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway—he sacrificed his teammate.
Sliding up into fellow JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier on Lap 296 of a scheduled 300, Gragson sent Allgaier’s No. 7 Chevrolet spinning into the outside wall, knocking Allgaier out of the battle for the lead and sending the race to overtime.
On the final two-lap overtime dash, Gragson held off Chase Briscoe and Brandon Jones for his second NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the year, his first at Bristol and the second of his career.
“I really apologize to Justin and the 7 team,” Gragson said. “That’s not how I want to race, but I saw that position open up. He kind of slipped off the bottom the lap before. I tried to get to the bottom, and I just got too loose. Those top five guys—really everyone in the field—the track was like ice. We were just slipping and sliding.”
But if Gragson had misgivings about the final laps, the victory assuaged them.
“What a heck of a night for this No. 9 team, (sponsor) Plan B Sales, they came on for the first time, and we had veteran Jason Oden—he was riding on the windshield with us. I got to see him earlier. He sent us a video earlier, it was really cool. And thank you to Xfinity.
“This car was as fast as Xfinity internet. I’m just really worn out. It’s Bristol baby. This is incredible. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I suck here. I was terrible here in Trucks and Xfinity last year, but my crew chief, he believed in me. Dave Elenz is the man.”
Allgaier had taken control of the race, winning the second stage and leading 156 of the 303 laps. The driver nicknamed “Little Gator” appeared headed for a convincing win at the track that had given him his first Xfinity victory 10 years ago, but a caution for Colby Howard’s contact with the outside wall on Lap 287 slowed the field and gave Gragson the opportunity he needed.
Allgraier grabbed the lead on the final restart but couldn’t hold the bottom of the track in Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 295, allowing Gragson power his No. 9 Chevrolet to the inside. The teammates raced side by side until Gragson’s car broke loose under Allgaier’s and ended the veteran’s night.
Gragson also knocked Allgaier out of next Saturday’s first Xfinity Dash 4 Cash race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where the top four Xfinity regulars at Bristol—Gragson, Briscoe, Jones and Harrison Burton—will race for a $100,000 bonus.
“The team did a great job getting us the track position we needed,” Allgaier said in a post-race interview with PRN. “I’m more mad at myself for making a mistake and getting off the bottom—but, yeah, we got wrecked.”
Briscoe didn’t lead a lap, but he retained the series lead with his runner-up finish.
“I’m super excited to go run for 100 grand, thanks to Xfinity,” Briscoe said. “We were just a fifth-to sixth-place car, it seemed like, most of the night. We were just really tight. There at the end, restarts went our way, and we were just able to salvage a second.
“Really happy for our HighPoint.com Ford guys —and really excited about getting to Atlanta. It’s one of my favorite race tracks. Really looking forward to it.”
Myatt Snider finished fifth behind the four Dash 4 Cash qualifiers. Daniel Hemric, Brandon Brown, Jeremy Clements, Josh Williams and AJ Allmendinger completed the top 10.
Gragson won the first stage and led 55 laps, third-most behind Allgaier and Burton (82).