Noah Gragson Wins Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA – RIS Noah Gragson in the #18 Switch Toyota passed #88 Matt Crafton on the final restart of the race with ten laps remaining and pulled away from the field to take the victory in the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions at Martinsville Speedway. This was Gragson’s first win in 22 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Crafton held the second position followed by #21 Johnny Sauter, #51 Harrison Burton and #46 Todd Gilliland.
Matt Crafton was not a happy driver after winning the first stage of the race, taking second in the second race stage and leading three times for a total of 102 of the 200 lap race only to lose the lead and the race on the final restart. Gragson led only the one time, but it was the most important time to lead. In the media center, Crafton kept using such colorful terms as “it sucks”, “I’m p-----off” and “rubs salt in the wounds” after losing what seemed to be an almost guaranteed win until that final restart. Crafton restarted on the preferred inside line but Gragson managed a great start on the outside line to stay side-by-side with Crafton until finally pulling ahead of Crafton and dropping down into the inside line. Thus, Crafton’s frustration.
There were a total of 6 lead changes among the five drivers Matt Crafton, #29 Chase Briscoe (1 time for 39 laps), #21 Johnny Sauter (1 time for 33 laps), #4 Christopher Bell (1 time for 16 laps) and Noah Gragson.
As usual, Martinsville Speedway had a few caution flags but it was not a crash fest. There were a total of six cautions for a total of 45 laps The first caution was for a crash in turn 2 by John Hunter Nemechek putting another hardship on his position in the points race. Cautions 2 and 3 were for the ends of stages 2 and 3. Caution four flew on lap 123 for a spin by Christopher Bell in turn four after battling for position with Matt Crafton. Caution 5 flew from laps 138-143 after contact between #24 and #29 in turn 1 resulting in damage to the #29 of pole-winner Chase Briscoe. Briscoe ended up with a 19th position finish. The final caution was for a spin by the #50 of Bayley Currey that set up the final restart of the race.
Christopher Bell leads the point standings by 3 points over Johnny Sauter. The remainder of the top ten consists of Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Austin Cindric, John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Briscoe, Kaz Grala, Ryan Truex and Grant Enfinger.
The next race for the truck series is November3, 2017 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Staff Writer and editor for RIS since 2001. Been attending NASCAR and stock car races since my dad starting taking me in 1960 at the age of 5.