Gragson Wins Three-Way Battle to Finish First in Darlington Xfinity Race

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DARLINGTON, S.C. - RIS - Noah Gragson charged to the front on the final lap and outran Kyle Larson and Sheldon Creed in a tight battle to win Saturday night’s Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway.  Sheldon Creed took the lead on a round of pit stops late in the race and led until Gragson and Larson surged to the front and made the fight for the win a three-way battle. The three drivers had a fierce battle over the closing two miles, with Larson and Creed running side by side and banging fenders. Creed ran much of the final lap against the outside wall, struggling to reach the finish line.

While Larson and Creed wrestled for the lead and slowed after contact, Gragson slipped past on the inside and won the race, his fourth victory of the year. Creed finished second, followed by AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier and Larson.

Pole winner Brandon Jones slammed the wall between Turn 3 and 4 with 20 laps to go, causing a caution flag and bunching the field. Creed’s team returned him to the track first, and he kept the lead until the final laps.

Gragson had the race’s dominant car. He won the first stage and led 79 of the first 90 laps.

The caution flew on lap 88 when flames popped underneath JJ Yeley‘s car.

Gragson, tracking leader Creed, looked like his chance at victory might’ve slipped away when NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson took over second. But as Larson and Creed fought side-by-side, touching several times in the final laps, Gragson moved low around Creed, who’s car had a flat tire and gave off sparks against the wall.

 Gragson and his team climbed the fence in celebration of his fourth win this season.

“We won this race here last year and we put on one hell of a show for the fans,” Gragson said.

The race was red-flagged for 2 hours, 37 minutes after rain hit the track. It ended under the lights.

Larson warmed up for this year’s playoff opener Sunday by running the Xfinity event. Larson got up to third near the end of the opening, 45-lap stage. After hitting wall earlier, Larson apparently ran over debris to flatten his tire and drop a lap down to 35th.

Still, he moved in contention at the end, but just couldn’t clear Creed.

Ty Gibbs and Justin Allgaier bumped each other on a pace lap while heating up their tires for the start.

 Then after stage one, and winner Gragson took the green checkered flag, Anthony Alfredo and John Hunter Nemechek wrecked in the caution period. Alfredo had significant damage and lost several laps as his crew tried to get him back out. During the lengthy rain delay, Alfredo said he got sick in the car and apologized to Nemechek.

Denny Hamlin, second all-time at Darlington with five Xfinity wins, was scheduled to race here. But chose to rest with lingering soreness from the wreck he was in at Daytona last week. Another playoff team of Hamlin’s, Christopher Bell, took the Xfinity seat and finished in seventh place.

Unofficial Results: 40th Annual Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200, September 3, 2022 - Darlington Raceway
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps , St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 2, Noah Gragson, No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, 147, 1, 2, 4, 82, 6, 59, Running
2) 3, Sheldon Creed #, No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet, 147, 5, 6, 2, 47, , 46, Running
3) 19, AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Action Industries Chevrolet, 147, , 9, , , , 36, Running
4) 6, Justin Allgaier, No. 7 Hellmann's Chevrolet, 147, 4, 1, 2, 12, 1, 50, Running
5) 7, Kyle Larson(i), No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 147, , , 1, 1, , 0, Running
6) 5, Ty Gibbs, No. 54 Shriners Children's 100th Anniversary Toyota, 147, 3, 7, , , , 43, Running
7) 36, Christopher Bell(i), No. 18 Sport Clips Haircuts Toyota, 147, 8, 3, , , , 0, Running
8) 15, Josh Berry, No. 8 Harrison's USA Back to School Chevrolet, 147, , 10, , , , 30, Running
9) 17, John Hunter Nemechek(i), No. 26 Freedom 13 Toyota, 147, , 8, , , , 0, Running
10) 4, Austin Hill #, No. 21 Bennett Transportation Chevrolet, 147, 7, 5, 1, 2, , 37, Running
11) 12, Sam Mayer, No. 1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 26, Running
12) 9, Landon Cassill, No. 10 Voyager: Crypto for All Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 25, Running
13) 10, Daniel Hemric, No. 11 AG1 - Athletic Greens Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 1, Brandon Jones, No. 19 Menards/Atlas Toyota, 147, 2, 4, 1, 3, , 39, Running
15) 11, Ross Chastain(i), No. 48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet, 147, 10, , , , , 0, Running
16) 16, Kyle Weatherman, No. 34 eRacing Association Chevrolet, 147, 9, , , , , 23, Running
17) 14, Stefan Parsons(i), No. 45 Pops Mart Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 0, Running
18) 25, Ryan Sieg, No. 39 CMRoofing.com/A-Game Ford, 147, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 22, Bayley Currey, No. 4 Hy-Vee Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 27, Mason Massey, No. 91 Anderson Power Services Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 13, Jeremy Clements, No. 51 Booze Pops Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 31, Ryan Ellis, No. 44 KeenParts.com Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 38, Kyle Sieg #, No. 38 H&W Electrical Ford, 147, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 18, Jeb Burton, No. 27 Rush Energy Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 30, David Starr, No. 08 TicketSmarter/Special Report Ford, 147, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 29, Josh Williams, No. 36 Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet, 146, , , , , , 11, Running
27) 26, Ryan Vargas, No. 6 Native Sons Chevrolet, 146, , , , , , 10, Running
28) 21, Myatt Snider, No. 31 Capital City Towing Chevrolet, 145, , , , , , 9, Running
29) 32, Brandon Brown, No. 78 JABS Construction Chevrolet, 145, , , , , , 8, Running
30) 35, Dawson Cram, No. 35 Be Water Ford, 145, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 28, Brennan Poole(i), No. 47 Inspire Real Change Chevrolet, 86, , , , , , 0, Axle
32) 23, JJ Yeley, No. 66 Wild Willies Toyota, 83, , , , , , 5, Engine
33) 20, Joe Graf Jr., No. 07 G Coin Ford, 61, , , , , , 4, Accident
34) 8, Riley Herbst, No. 98 Monster Energy Ford, 56, 6, , , , , 8, DVP
35) 24, Ty Dillon(i), No. 02 Chevrolet, 55, , , , , , 0, Electrical
36) 34, Kris Wright(i), No. 68 First National Bank Chevrolet, 55, , , , , , 1, Accident
37) 37, Anthony Alfredo, No. 23 Carolina Cowboys Chevrolet, 51, , , , , , 1, Accident
38) 33, Tommy Joe Martins, No. 5 Capital City Chevrolet, 44, , , , , , 1, Radiator
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Race Length: 147 Laps - 200.802 Miles

Time: 2 Hrs, 2 Mins, 58 Secs.
Average Speed: 97.979 MPH
Margin of Victory: 0.794 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 9, 19, 54, 7, 2, 98, 21, 18, 34, 48

Stage 2 Top 10: 7, 9, 18, 19, 21, 2, 54, 26, 16, 8

Comments: Noah Gragson won the Sports Clip Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway, his ninth NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.

Prior to the start the following cars dropped to the rear of the field: No. 18 (engine change) No. 23, 36, 38, 68, 78 (unapproved adjustments).

Failed to Qualify: No. 13 Chad Finchum.

Cautions: 5 for 39 laps;
Laps: 47-53 (Stage 1 Conclusion [51]);
57-61 (No. 68, 98, 31 Incident Turn 2 [44]);
65-77 (Precipitation [Red Flag: 2:37:23] [4]);
89-97 (No. 66 Stopped on track / Stage 2 Conclusion [17]);
129-133 (No. 19 spin turn 3 [38]).

Lead Changes: 10 among 6 drivers;
B. Jones 1-3;
N. Gragson 4-82;
J. Allgaier 83-93;
N. Gragson 94;
A. Hill # 95-96;
J. Allgaier 97;
S. Creed # 98-132;
N. Gragson 133;
S. Creed # 134-145;
K. Larson(i) 146;
N. Gragson 147.

Unofficial Points Report: 40th Annual Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200, Darlington Raceway
Rank, Driver, Car, Starts, GL, Points, Ldr, Nxt, Race Wins, Stage Wins, Playoff Pts
1) AJ Allmendinger, 16, 24, 0, 964, 0, 0, 3, 2, 17
2) Ty Gibbs, 54, 24, 0, 913, -51, 51, 5, 4, 29
3) Justin Allgaier, 7, 24, 0, 898, -66, 15, 3, 7, 22
4) Noah Gragson, 9, 24, 0, 872, -92, 26, 4, 12, 32
5) Josh Berry, 8, 24, 0, 830, -134, 42, 2, 6, 16
6) Austin Hill #, 21, 24, 0, 740, -224, 90, 2, 1, 11
7) Brandon Jones, 19, 24, 0, 708, -256, 32, 1, 1, 6
8) Riley Herbst, 98, 24, 0, 651, -313, 57, 0, 0, 0
9) Sam Mayer, 1, 24, 0, 648, -316, 3, 0, 2, 2
10) Daniel Hemric, 11, 24, 0, 593, -371, 55, 0, 2, 2
11) Landon Cassill, 10, 24, 0, 573, -391, 20, 0, 0, 0
12) Ryan Sieg, 39, 24, 0, 555, -409, 18, 0, 1, 1
13) Sheldon Creed #, 2, 24, 0, 539, -425, 16, 0, 0, 0
14) Brandon Brown, 78, 24, 1, 458, -506, 81, 0, 0, 0
15) Anthony Alfredo, 23, 24, -1, 458, -506, 0, 0, 0, 0
16) Myatt Snider, 31, 24, 1, 383, -581, 75, 0, 1, 1
17) Brett Moffitt, , 20, -1, 383, -581, 0, 0, 0, 0
18) Jeb Burton, 27, 24, 0, 374, -590, 9, 0, 0, 0
19) Alex Labbe, , 21, 0, 356, -608, 18, 0, 0, 0
20) Jeremy Clements, 51, 24, 0, 344, -620, 12, 1, 0, -5
21) Bayley Currey, 4, 24, 0, 304, -660, 40, 0, 0, 0
22) JJ Yeley, 66, 21, 0, 274, -690, 30, 0, 0, 0
23) Ryan Vargas, 6, 21, 0, 262, -702, 12, 0, 0, 0
24) Kyle Weatherman, 34, 17, 1, 261, -703, 1, 0, 0, 0
25) Trevor Bayne, , 6, -1, 241, -723, 20, 0, 2, 0
26) Mason Massey, 91, 16, 1, 214, -750, 27, 0, 0, 0
27) Josh Williams, 36, 19, 1, 208, -756, 6, 0, 0, 0
28) Kyle Sieg #, 38, 14, 1, 204, -760, 4, 0, 0, 0
29) Joe Graf Jr, 07, 21, -3, 202, -762, 2, 0, 0, 0
30) Jeffrey Earnhardt, , 9, 0, 163, -801, 39, 0, 0, 0
31) Ryan Truex, , 6, 0, 162, -802, 1, 0, 0, 0
32) David Starr, 08, 13, 0, 143, -821, 19, 0, 0, 0
33) Ryan Ellis, 44, 10, 2, 137, -827, 6, 0, 0, 0
34) Jade Buford, , 9, -1, 127, -837, 10, 0, 0, 0
35) Sage Karam, , 7, -1, 125, -839, 2, 0, 0, 0
36) Sammy Smith, , 5, 0, 105, -859, 20, 0, 1, 0
37) Parker Retzlaff, , 5, 0, 103, -861, 2, 0, 0, 0
38) Joey Gase, , 7, 0, 99, -865, 4, 0, 0, 0
39) Patrick Emerling, , 8, 0, 96, -868, 3, 0, 0, 0
40) Preston Pardus, , 4, 0, 84, -880, 12, 0, 0, 0
41) Jesse Iwuji, , 9, 0, 84, -880, 0, 0, 0, 0
42) Andy Lally, , 4, 0, 83, -881, 1, 0, 0, 0
43) Shane Lee, , 5, 0, 71, -893, 12, 0, 0, 0
44) Cj Mclaughlin, , 6, 0, 66, -898, 5, 0, 0, 0
45) Tommy Joe Martins, 5, 5, 0, 64, -900, 2, 0, 0, 0
46) Miguel Paludo, , 3, 0, 52, -912, 12, 0, 0, 0
47) Scott Heckert, , 4, 0, 50, -914, 2, 0, 0, 0
48) Derek Griffith, , 3, 0, 46, -918, 4, 0, 0, 0
49) Patrick Gallagher, , 4, 0, 44, -920, 2, 0, 0, 0
50) Parker Chase, , 2, 0, 31, -933, 13, 0, 0, 0
51) Caesar Bacarella, , 4, 0, 31, -933, 0, 0, 0, 0
52) Drew Dollar, , 2, 0, 30, -934, 1, 0, 0, 0
53) Dale Earnhardt, , 1, 0, 26, -938, 4, 0, 0, 0
54) Santino Ferrucci, , 2, 0, 22, -942, 4, 0, 0, 0
55) Howie Disavino, , 2, 0, 21, -943, 1, 0, 0, 0
56) Nicholas Sanchez, , 2, 0, 20, -944, 1, 0, 0, 0
57) Gray Gaulding, , 2, 0, 17, -947, 3, 0, 0, 0
58) Natalie Decker, , 3, 0, 17, -947, 0, 0, 0, 0
59) Garrett Smithley, , 1, 0, 16, -948, 1, 0, 0, 0
60) Dillon Bassett, , 2, 0, 10, -954, 6, 0, 0, 0
61) Bj Mcleod, , 1, 0, 9, -955, 1, 0, 0, 0
62) Chris Dyson, , 1, 0, 9, -955, 0, 0, 0, 0
63) Spencer Pumpelly, , 1, 0, 8, -956, 1, 0, 0, 0
64) Dawson Cram, 35, 1, 49, 7, -957, 1, 0, 0, 0
65) Chad Finchum, , 1, -1, 5, -959, 2, 0, 0, 0
66) Will Rodgers, , 2, -1, 2, -962, 3, 0, 0, 0
67) Julia Landauer, , 1, -1, 1, -963, 1, 0, 0, 0
68) Ronnie Bassett, , 1, -1, 1, -963, 0, 0, 0, 0
69) Darren Dilley, , 1, -1, 1, -963, 0, 0, 0, 0
70) Kyle Larson(i), 17, 3, -1, 0, -964, 1, 1, 2, 0
71) Cole Custer(i), , 5, -1, 0, -964, 0, 1, 1, 0
72) Tyler Reddick(i), , 5, -1, 0, -964, 0, 1, 0, 0
73) John Hunter Nemechek(i), 26, 9, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 1, 0
74) Timmy Hill(i), , 6, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
75) William Byron(i), , 3, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 2, 0
76) Alex Bowman(i), , 1, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
77) Ross Chastain(i), 48, 4, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
78) Ryan Preece(i), , 3, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
79) Kaz Grala(i), , 8, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
80) Chase Briscoe(i), , 1, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
81) Ty Dillon(i), 02, 4, -1, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
82) Christopher Bell(i), 18, 1, 0, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
83) Josh Bilicki(i), , 6, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
84) Stefan Parsons(i), 45, 16, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
85) Parker Kligerman(i), , 2, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
86) Connor Mosack(i), , 2, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
87) Blaine Perkins(i), , 3, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
88) Matt Mills(i), , 14, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
89) Matt Jaskol(i), , 1, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
90) Brad Perez(i), , 1, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
91) Chandler Smith(i), , 2, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
92) Rajah Caruth(i), , 3, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
93) Mason Filippi, , 1, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
94) Akinori Ogata(i), , 1, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
95) Justin Haley(i), , 1, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
96) Austin Dillon(i), , 2, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
97) Ricky Stenhouse(i), , 2, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
98) Bubba Wallace(i), , 2, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
99) Brennan Poole(i), 47, 6, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
100) Kris Wright(i), 68, 2, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
101) Loris Hezemans(i), , 1, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
102) Harrison Rhodes, , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
103) Jesse Little(i), , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
104) Chase Elliott(i), , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
105) Bobby Mccarty, , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
106) Austin Wayne Self(i), , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
107) Stan Mullis, , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
108) Tim Viens(i), , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
r109) Gar Robinson, , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
110) Dexter Bean, , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
111) Jordan Anderson(i), , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
112) Stanton Barrett, , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
113) Joe Nemechek, , 0, -2, 0, -964, 0, 0, 0, 0
 -Ldr/-Nxt = Points behind Leader/Next higher, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

Ronald Fleshman with John Davisonj

Ron Fleshman is NASCAR Editor at Ris-News.com

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Volume 2022, Issue 9, Posted 8:36 PM, 09.03.2022