Noah Gragson earns first Darlington Xfinity victory in NASCAR overtime
By Hunter Thomas
Noah Gragson held off Harrison Burton in NASCAR Overtime during the VFW Sport Clips Haircuts Helps A Hero 200 to capture his first win of the season and his first-ever at Darlington Raceway. On the final restart of the afternoon, Gragson lined up on the inside row with Austin Cindric alongside of him. When the green flag flew, Gragson took off, but Cindric spun his tires, backing up the top lane. The mishap allowed Burton to solidify the second position and battle Gragson for the lead. Burton had a look at Gragson in Turn 3 of both of the laps following the NASCAR Overtime restart, but he just didn’t have enough to pull alongside and challenge for the win. “We made good adjustments on the pit stops, and like you said, it has been way too long,” Gragson said following his win at Darlington Raceway. “A lot of frustration this year and a lot of things haven’t gone our way, but we’re getting some momentum when we need to, and I just can’t everybody enough on the No. 9 team.” Gragson entered the race winless. Although the 23-year-old has been running well, earning four top-five and five top-10 finishes over the past 10 races, the Darlington win will boost the JR Motorsports No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet team as they prepare to compete in the NASCAR Playoffs. Finishing behind Gragson and Burton was Cindric. Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley and Jeb Burton rounded out the top-five. Darlington spring race winner, Justin Allagier finished sixth, followed by Tyler Reddick, South Carolina’s Jeremy Clements, Myatt Snider and Alex Labbe. Daniel Hemric won Stage 1, while Gragson swept the final two stages. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin led a race high of 43 laps. In the closing laps, it appeared that Hamlin was going to cruise to his sixth-career Darlington win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but a costly mistake on pit road ended his chances of winning. On the final pit stop of the day, Hamlin’s crew took equipment over the wall too soon, and Hamlin went from first to the rear of the field. Hamlin fought back and salvaged a 12th-place finish. There were eight cautions for 41 laps throughout the afternoon. Only two cautions were for multi-car accidents. On Lap 60, contact from Hemric sent Brandon Jones hard into the inside wall exiting Turn number 2. On Lap 110, Tommy Joe Martins slowed significantly in Turn 3, and with nowhere to go, Riley Herbst plowed into the back of him. Herbst limped his car to pit road, where the engine bay ignited with flames. The NASCAR Xfinity Series will visit Richmond Raceway on Saturday, September 11 for the Go Bowling 250. Live coverage will broadcast pm NBCSN and MRN at 2:30 p.m. ET.