Noah Gragson claims first career win at Martinsville
By Matt Courson
October 28, 2017
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—Noah Gragson claimed his first ever win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday afternoon at the Martinsville Speedway.
Gragson became the 10th different driver to capture their first ever win at the track known as “The Paperclip.”
With a 10-lap shootout in the waning laps, Gragson did the what was thought to be the impossible—pass veteran Matt Crafton using the outside lane.
“It’s really tough racing against these veterans,” Gragson said. “Those last like 40 laps with Johnny Sauter being off my back bumper, he did that earlier to that to us in the spring and I wasn’t gonna let him pass me again like that.
“We got that caution there at the end and you can’t pass on the outside in Martinsville and I did it.”
STAGE ONE (LAPS 1-50)
Chase Briscoe led the field to the green flag alongside defending champion Matt Crafton.
Briscoe was in command for the opening 39 laps.
On Lap 39, championship contender John Hunter Nemechek suffered a brake issue and slammed into the Turn 2 wall, experiencing heavy damage in the process.
When the field went back to green on lap 45, it was Crafton who acquired the lead after varying strategy on pit road resulted in Briscoe coming to pit road.
Crafton led the remaining laps in Stage 1 and took the green-and-white checkered flag.
Christopher Bell was the only playoff driver to not earn points in Stage 1.
STAGE TWO (LAPS 51-100)
Matt Crafton led the field back to green on lap 60 with Johnny Sauter following closely in second.
Sauter eventually passed Crafton by pushing him out of the preferred groove.
The driver of the No. 21 Silverado led every lap in Stage 2 and captured yet another stage win.
At the end of the second stage, Crafton and Sauter were tied at 19 in stage points.
Both Sauter and Briscoe experienced slow pit stops, resulting in both restarting in the middle of the pack.
STAGE THREE (LAPS 101-200)
When the race resumed on Lap 111, it was Christopher Bell who led the field into Turn 1.
The fourth yellow flag of the event occurred on Lap 123, after championship contenders Christopher Bell and Matt Crafton made contact in the third turn, sending Bell around after battling for the lead.
The No. 4 truck of Bell did not receive significant damage, and was able to continue.
Pole sitter Chase Briscoe spun around in Turns 1 and 2 after contact was made with Justin Haley. Briscoe was able to return with minimal damage.
With 18 laps remaining, a spin by Bailey Curry in Turn 2 brought out the yellow flag.
The field would go green with 10 laps remaining, with Matt Crafton once again having the advantage.
Rookie-of-the-year contender Noah Gragson restarted on the outside.
The rookie was able to pass and clear Matt Crafton one lap later in the outside lane.
The 19-year old was able to keep the defending champion behind him and claim his first ever win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
This is Gragson’s first ever win in the Camping World Truck Series.
Gragson reached Victory Lane on his 20th start in the series.
Gragson captured his fourth top-five finish of 2017.
Crafton posted his 19th top-10 finish in 32 races at Martinsville Speedway.
The event was slowed 6 times by a caution on the racetrack.
The series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for the JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief.
Jonny Olkowski/The Racing Experts
Haley Rapier/The Racing Experts