Gragson dominates Saturday’s United Rentals 200 in Phoenix

Noah Gragson stomped the NASCAR Xfinity Series field in the Arizona desert on Saturday and made the ultimate statement to his championship competitors. Gragson, led 114 of 200 laps en route to a dominating victory in Saturday’s United Rentals 200. It was his sixth career win in Xfinity Series competition including most importantly a win on the Phoenix Raceway track that decides the championship in November.

It was his fourth top 10 on this 1-mile track in his last six starts but it’s also the place he was runner-up at in Nov. 2020. Now, he has four top three finishes in as many races this season which is the hottest start to a year in the Xfinity Series since Elliott Sadler in 2012.

Sadler’s crew chief?

Luke Lambert.

Gragson’s crew chief…Luke Lambert.

This is the first year for the duo together as Lambert’s last trip to victory lane came back in 2017 at…Phoenix.

Gragson, held the lead from Lap 113 until pitting for the final time on Lap 169. That handed the lead over to Ryan Sieg before Brandon Jones cycled past Gragson for the top spot on Lap 172. Jones, held a lead of 1.187-seconds with 25 laps remaining but Gragson was charging hard.

The JR Motorsports driver eventually caught Jones and passed him 14 to go and led the rest of the way to give JRM their second win here in the last eight.

Jones, finished 2.555-seconds arrears for his best finish of the season in his No. 19 Toyota. His previous best was 10th last week but Phoenix is a place to where he’s always strong at. This was his fourth top seven here in the last five tries.

Gragson’s JRM teammate of Josh Berry was third in his No. 8 Chevrolet for his third straight top four finish on the season while pole sitter Trevor Bayne was fourth in his No. 18 Toyota. John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top five in his No. 26 Toyota.

Last weeks winner Ty Gibbs rebounded from an early race spin on Lap 54 to come home sixth in his No. 54 Toyota to give the Toyota camp four cars in the top six of the final standings.

We go to Atlanta and COTA next then to a pair of Virginia short tracks in Richmond and Martinsville. Both places are where Gragson won the last races at last Fall.

One under the radar guy to watch out for has been Berry. He won at Martinsville last spring and was fourth, fourth and third respectively on the west coast swing. Same for Justin Allgaier to rebounded to finish 10th. He had a penalty on his final pit stop but still came back to score his 16th straight top 10 (dating back to last season) as he’s had finishes of 5th, 8th, 5th and 10th respectively this season.

Allgaier won the last spring race in Atlanta last year with JRM likely to go on a roll here over the next month or so.

Through four races, we’ve had four different winners from four different teams. Austin Hill (Richard Childress Racing) won in Daytona, Cole Custer (SS Green Light Racing) then won in Daytona while Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Gragson (JR Motorsports) won the last two weeks respectively in Vegas and Phoenix respectively.

Kaulig Racing for the second straight week put all three cars in the top 10. AJ Allmendinger was seventh for just his second top 10 in five Phoenix tries in the series. He’s start the year off with finishes of 2nd, 7th, 9th and 7th respectively.

Daniel Hemric was eighth in his No. 11 Chevrolet in making his first start back at Phoenix since his emotional triumph last Fall for what not only was his first career NASCAR victory but him taking home the championship too. He started the season off with a stage sweep of Daytona but was caught up in a crash and finished 28th. He was 12th a week later in Fontana while being third and eighth respectively the last two weeks.

Landon Cassill was ninth in his No. 10 Chevrolet for just his second top 10 in 29 career Phoenix starts across Cup and Xfinity competition. The Iowa native was 14th, 38th and sixth to start the season off with prior to Saturday.

Daytona winner Austin Hill was only 17th, 1 lap down, as his finishes since his season opening triumph have been 27th, 31st and now 17th respectively.

This race was a clean one with Riley Herbst (Lap 21) and the incident between Gibbs and Josh Berry on Lap 54 as the only on track crashes on Saturday. The only other cautions came via stage breaks including the entire final stage going from green to checkered without a stoppage.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s