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NASCAR Truck: Noah Gragson notches first win at Martinsville Speedway

Noah Gragson takes the checkered flag in the Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 28, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Noah Gragson takes the checkered flag in the Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 28, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Noah Gragson got out in front of Matt Crafton with 10 laps remaining in the Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for his first and only lead of the race. He maintained that lead until the checkered flag to claim his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win and play playoff spoiler in the opening race of the second round, or Round of Six, of the 2017 playoffs.

“It’s tough as a young guy,” Gragson said. “I’m out here to prove myself. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make the chase [playoffs]. We’ve had speed all year. I couldn’t do it without everyone who has brought me up through the ranks and gave me this opportunity – Switch. And it’s so awesome to come out here racing the K&N Series last year, coming in to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I’m out of breath. I’m worn out. I climbed the fence, and hopefully, I put on a good show for the fans; did a good burnout and appreciate all you fans who came out. You guys are awesome.”

Kyle Busch Motorsports claimed three of the top-five spots of the finishing order, with Harrison claiming his first-career series top-five by finishing fourth and Todd Gilliland rounding out the top-five.

“It’s always good for the sport when you can get someone else in victory lane, a young guy especially,” Burton said. “Coming down to a short tack and getting it done; it’s cool. But I’m here for me. I wish it was me out there, even though it’s one of my buddies. No matter what your relationship is, you want to beat them. That’s what makes the sport great.”

Series regulars and playoff drivers Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter finished second and third after Crafton dominated the race with 102 laps-led.

“I would have taken the outside (lane),” Crafton said of what he’d do differently if he had the chance at a do-over of the last restart. “This sucks.”

Crafton and Sauter were the stage winners, with Crafton winning the first and Sauter the second 50-lap stage.

One race after being eliminated from the playoffs, Chase Briscoe won the pole at Martinsville and led the first 39 laps of the race before heading for pit road under a caution that came out for playoff driver John Hunter Nemechek on lap 38. Briscoe was involved in a scuffle with Justin Haley in the second half of the race that resulted in a caution, the fifth of the race, with just over 60 laps remaining.

Pit strategies varied in the first half of the race, beginning from the first caution.

Nine trucks stayed out during the first caution, led by Crafton. When the yellow flag waved for a second time after the conclusion of the opening stage, Crafton, Sauter and Gragson continued to stay out, while the other six who stayed out during the first caution elected to hit pit road.

The three drivers yet to pit ran in the top-three throughout the second stage, with Sauter getting by Crafton for the lead on lap 72.

The entire field pitted at the halfway point of the race when the second stage ended, but degrees of service varied. Christopher Bell, after started the race around mid-pack started the second half of the race up front after a two-tire stop, and Ryan Truex gained positions by taking fuel only. Crafton got up to second soon after the restart as Bell continued to lead.

Racing for the lead, Bell and Crafton made contact that led to the fourth caution of the race on lap 122. Bell’s truck sustained enough damage that he had to pit for repairs and, as a result, restarted in the back. Crafton, though, was able to take the lead.

Bell still managed a top-10 finish in eighth. Other top-10 finishers included Stewart Friesen in sixth. Kaz Grala was seventh, Ben Rhodes was ninth and Austin Cindric 10th.

Nemechek was the only playoff driver not inside the top-10 at the checkered flag. After his early retirement from the race, Nemechek was credited with a finish of 30th.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on October 28, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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