BRISTOL, Tenn. – Noah Gragson used a little short-track muscle to take the lead from JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier during a late-race restart to win Monday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Cheddar’s 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Allgaier had the dominant car Monday night, leading a race-high 156 laps, but a late caution when Colby Howard blew a tire and pounded the wall would prove to be his undoing.
Howard’s incident came with 14 laps left in the event, setting up a restart with seven laps left that saw Allgaier lead Gragson back to the green flag. Restarting from the inside lane, Allgaier was able to pull clear of Gragson going into turn one to hold onto the lead.
However, entering turn one on the following lap Allgaier’s Chevrolet slipped up the track and that opened the door for Gragson to get to Allgaier’s inside. The two ran side-by-side through turns three and four and down the fronstretch as they battled for the lead.
Entering turn one with five laps left Gragson drifted up and shoved Allgaier’s Chevrolet out of the groove and up the track, which resulted in Allgaier’s Chevrolet spinning out of turn two and making contact with the inside wall to bring out the caution flag. Allgaier would retire from the race shortly thereafter.
Gragson was now the leader with Chase Briscoe lined up alongside him for the restart. Gragson was able to hold the lead after a brief challenge from Briscoe and Brandon Jones, allowing Gragson to earn his second Xfinity Series victory of the season and first at Bristol.
“I really apologize to Justin and his team, that’s not how I want to race,” Gragson said. “I saw the position open up, he kind of slipped off the bottom the lap before and I tried to get to the bottom and I just got too loose.”
Gragson noted that he previously struggled at Bristol, making Monday’s victory a little bit sweeter.
“This is incredible,” Gragson said. “I sucked here. I was terrible here in Trucks, in Xfinity last year. My crew chief believed in me and he wanted me to come back and run with them. Dave Elenz is the man.”
Briscoe followed Gragson across the line in second, followed by Jones, Harrison Burton and Myatt Snider. Daniel Hemric, Brandon Brown, Jeremy Clements, Josh Williams and A.J. Allmendinger completed the top-10.
The top-four finishers in Monday’s race – Gragson, Briscoe, Jones and Burton – earned a place in the first Dash 4 Cash race of the season next Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The highest finishing driver among those four competitors at Atlanta’s 1.5-mile oval will earn a $100,000 bonus.
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