NASCAR headed for the hills this weekend — the Pocono Mountains, to be more exact. The CRC Brakleen 150, Explore the Pocono Mountains 225, and the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 brought all three of Black Rifle Coffee Company’s NASCAR drivers to the East Coast. The 2 1/2-mile triangle of the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, saw leads from Noah Gragson for most of his race.
Photo by Tim Parks/Harold Hinson Photography.
During the 19th NASCAR race out of a 33-race season, Noah Gragson started the Explore the Mountains 225 in ninth position which was his highest starting position of the season. On Stage One, Gragson held seventh position and earned four stage points; on Stage Two, Gragson led the last 16 laps, earning a playoff point and 10 stage points. In the third stage, Gragson led the final 22 laps of the race and finished in first place. This win is the second of the season for him, and he remains in fifth place for the Xfinity Cup Series, only 90 points off the top spot, with 657 points for the season.
“That was probably the best I’ve ever driven right there. I’m worn out. It wasn’t that long of a race, but I was working my butt off to keep the 54 [Ty Gibbs] behind me,” Gragson said. “He was pretty fast, but Luke Lambert and the rest of this Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee team did an unbelievable job calling me down pit road there at the end to put tires on. I had to work for it, it was tough. It just kept getting tight, tight, tight. With 15 laps to go, I didn’t think I could hold him off. This team is unbelievable. Tyler Monn, my spotter, did an amazing job today.”
Photo by Harold Hinson/Harold Hinson Photography.
In the last race of the regular season for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Crafton secured the the final playoff spot. As a former NCWTS champion, Crafton is angling to pick that championship back up.
“Just go execute and do what we know we can do, and do what we’ve always done,” Crafton, the three-time series champion, said in a NASCAR interview. “Just put ourselves in position, get stage points we got today. … We had a lot, a lot better truck than what we what we ended up with to be honest. I just couldn’t be as aggressive as I needed to be on the starts. And I just had to be super ultra cautious. And all the kids were throwing caution to the wind.”
“I couldn’t because I couldn’t take that chance,” Crafton continued. “It would just take one deal where somebody got loose under me and took me out. And that knocks us out for the big picture. So had to be really, really patient and try to ride it there at the end.”
Matt Crafton finished the CRC Brakleen 150 in 15th place, with 32 points, and he’s got 2,001 points total for the season. Playoffs begin with the Round of 10, which kicks off Friday, July 29, at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Where to find the drivers next: Matt Crafton heads to Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for the start of the Round of 10 playoff races, the TSport 200, on Friday. Noah Gragson and Ty Dillon also head to Indianapolis for the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard and Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line, respectively.