SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Noah Gragson runs well in NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In four combined events — one on the oval and now three on the road course — Gragson has three top fives and four top 10s.
On Saturday (July 30), Gragson won stage one, was forced to pit due to his damaged No. 9 and rebounded to finish 10th.
“I just enjoy this place,” Gragson told Frontstretch post-race. “It’s special, it’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t matter if it’s the road course or the oval. I really enjoyed it from the beginning and had a lot of fun with it.”
Gragson led six laps en route to picking up his eighth stage win this season. He now has 23 playoff points, currently tied for the most in the series.
STAGE 1 WINNER: @NoahGragson
— NASCAR on TSN (@NASCARonTSN) July 30, 2022
“We’ve got to keep winning races, keep running as hard as we can at the end of the day,” Gragson said.
Shortly into stage two, Gragson’s No. 9 received damage when he was involved in a three-wide incident including Sage Karam. Karam and Gragson tangled at Road America, culminating in Gragson wrecking Karam and then NASCAR subsequently penalizing Gragson for his actions.
“The No. 45 yet again still doesn’t know how fenders work and stuff, but just a part of it,” Gragson said.
Karam, meanwhile, had a different opinion.
“It got like three- or four-wide down there,” Karam said. “When it gets three- to four-wide, there’s no real room to go. He was behind me and I think he was actually the one who made it three-wide, so I just kind of had nowhere to go. Then I got to the inside of him and I guess he was mad that I got into the side of him. But, I mean, it’s all unintentional. They’re putting their car in that situation to make it three- or four-wide, and I get it. Everyone’s aggressive, but don’t get mad when it doesn’t go your way.
“So that was just the take on that. I’m not mad at Noah, I’m not trying to do anything on purpose to Noah. I just feel like he tried to get three cars in one corner and that just wasn’t going to happen. Then he gets mad at me. But it’s all good. We’ll move on.”
NASCAR mandated Gragson pit so his JR Motorsports crew could repair his No. 9. As a result, Gragson’s pit strategy was altered, and he had to drive through the field to regain those positions.
“We won the first stage, but I don’t feel like we showed our true potential with all the damage,” Gragson said. “We had an awkward pit sequence because we had damage.”
During the interview, Gragson was approached by Santino Ferrucci. Ferrucci made his second Xfinity start this season, and the two drivers thanked each other for racing cleanly, something even Ferrucci admitted uncertainty about when Gragson drove up to Ferrucci.
“I like Noah,” Ferrucci said. “He’s a good dude. He’s just a little wild. When I saw him coming through, I was like, ‘Hm, let’s see what’s going to happen.’ We had a really clean run through a couple of corners.”
Through 20 Xfinity races this season, Gragson now has 14 top-10 finishes. His performance has reportedly made him a leading candidate to move to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, particularly linked to the No. 42 Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet that will be vacated by Ty Dillon at season’s end.
— Mark Kristl (@MarkKristl) July 30, 2022
For his part, Gragson didn’t have much to say on the rumors.
“Who knows what they’re talking about?” Gragson said. “I appreciate their thoughts, but [I’m] just going to try to keep winning Xfinity races for now.”
Ferrucci said he also believes Gragson is headed to the Cup Series next year. As a result, Gragson’s remark to Ferrucci brought a smile to his face after a 17th-place finish.
“That’s pretty good [to hear] considering he’s going to be in Cup next year,” Ferrucci said.
Next up on the Xfinity Series docket is a trip to Michigan International Speedway. Gragson has been fast at the 2-mile track, with finishes of second and third in his two Xfinity races there.
“It’s a good track for us,” Gragson said. “We’ve run well there in the past. I’m really proud of the team; just got to keep working hard in the regular season and good points days.”
About the author
Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.
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