By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
An aggressive move on the final restart earned Noah Gragson a third-place finish in the Boyd Gaming 300. The NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender avoided a multi-car accident in the first overtime and bounced back after contact with the wall.
With a competitive field packed together on an overtime restart, Gragson lined up just let inside the top-10. Up ahead, contact between Christopher Bell and defending champion Tyler Reddick spinning in front of the field. As Gragson’s JR Motorsports teammate Zane Smith, as well as Austin Cindric piled in, the Drivers Edge Development participant weaved through the carnage. Somehow, he emerged unscathed.
On the final restart, Gragson made a bold move, darting to the outside in the middle of turns one and two. He made quick work of Austin Dillon and fellow JRM driver Michael Annett. However, there was not enough time for Gragson to catch the leaders, leaving him third at the checkered flag.
“We ended up third in the Switch JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro,” Gragson said. “It felt good to finish third, but we want more as a team. We’re going to keep working our tails off to get up there. It’s just a privilege to be able to race out here in front of the hometown crowd.
“Thank you to the fans coming out, it means a lot to me, this is a big race for me. Still got a little bit of work to do. I have a great team behind me, and we are going to keep our heads up.”
Midway through the final stage, Gragson bounced off the wall not once, but twice. The strength of the composite bodies was evident. In the past, the same contact would have cost Gragson speed. However, he powered through and slowly caught back up to the leaders.
Gragson’s third-place is his first top-five this season. It is also just the third top-five finish of his Xfinity career.
The third-place finish moves up from 13thin the championship points standings to be tied with Cindric for 10th. He is 45-points behind Bell, the points leader, and five ahead of the cutoff for the playoffs.