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Gragson’s Winning Streak Comes to an End Riding Into the NXS Playoffs

Riding in on the high of his four-win streak, Noah Gragson qualified third for the start of the Sparks 300 at the Talladega Superspeedway Saturday, Oct. 1. This 113-lap course saw him fall to the back of the field for an adjustment, and he had to work up from the rear of the pack to 18th at the end of his first lap. Three laps into the race, Gragson went to the pit for adjustments, which dropped him into the 32nd position at the restart. Just four laps after restarting, he got back into the top 20, and five laps after that, he passed into the top 10, holding on to the eighth position. Gragson finished Stage One in 23rd, heading to the pit again for new tires and more adjustments.

Photo by Harold Hinson/Harold Hinson Photography. 

Stage Two kicked off with Gragson in 11th position, moving up to 10th for a brief time before finishing out the stage in 14th position. He relied on his pit crew for some strategic adjustments, sending him out in the third position to start the third stage. On the final stage, Gragson launched into the lead on lap 56, but his lead was short-lived. Gragson dropped to third, then ninth place in the following laps, making it back into the top five briefly. Lap 108 was where Gragson made the move that could have launched him into his fifth straight win, but the lap leader blocked Gragson and killed his momentum, pushing him back down to 13th. 

Gragson finished 10th and is now tied for first in playoff points with race-winner AJ Allmendinger. This is his 21st top-10 finish of the season out of 28 races. Because of his victory last week, he is already through to the Round of 8, so he enters the opening round of the playoffs tied for the lead. 



Photo by Harold Hinson/Harold Hinson Photography. 


“I had the run there at the end, and I made the move I had to make if we were going to win the race. It’s just the way you race at Talladega,” Gragson said. “Luke (Lambert) and the No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee team gave me a fast Camaro today, and we had a chance at the end. All of our JRM teams ran really well today, and we’re going to Charlotte next week to race for another win and keep the momentum up for the championship.”


Photo by Harold Hinson/Harold Hinson Photography. 


Ty Dillon had a lively start to his race Sunday, losing his side window in the first stage of the YellaWood 500 at Talladega. The race was otherwise uneventful, and Dillon finished out the race in 23rd position with 14 points. The current 2022 Cup Series standings have Dillon beneath the Round of 8 cutline, holding 30th place.



Matt Crafton kicked off the Chevy Silverado 250 Camping World Truck Series race Saturday in fourth place, and after the 250 laps, he finished in 22nd place. This leaves Crafton below the playoff cutline in 9th place with 2,140 points and two top-five finishes in the 2022 season.


Where to find them next: Gragson and Dillon head to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course on Saturday and Sunday for the Drive for the Cure 250 Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and the Bank of America Roval 400. Crafton heads to Miami and the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 22.