By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Despite having no prior experience on dirt, Noah Gragson scored a Top 10 finish at Eldora Speedway. Gragson scored a seventh-place finish after staying out of trouble in his No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra.
With no experience on a slick dirt surface, Gragson focused on keeping his nose clean in the Eldora Dirt Derby. By doing so, he ran towards the front all night long, slowly climbing up through the field in the final laps.
Several times throughout the race, Gragson narrowly avoided trouble. The biggest moment for him came when he narrowly escaped an eight-truck melee in turns three and four. Contact between Sheldon Creed and Ben Rhodes spinning. With the quick pace, six more trucks piled in, leaving just one narrow groove clear in the middle of the track. Somehow, Gragson snuck through as those behind him also slowed for the wreck.
Gragson’s consistency in the race can be seen in his stage finishes. In both stages, he finished in 13th, ahead of many dirt ringers.
The first competitive laps on dirt that Gragson made were in the heat race that he competed in. He started on the pole, after a fifth-fastest lap in qualifying, in the fifth and final heat race. After starting from the pole in the heat, Gragson finished in second, just over a second behind Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular Ty Dillon. This lined him up in the 10th starting spot.
Eldora marked the seventh straight Top 10 finish for Gragson, and the eighth of his career. This streak started at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a ninth-place finish.
Although many around him in points had trouble throughout the night, Gragson remains ninth in points. He currently sits eight points behind the cutoff for the Playoffs, held by Ben Rhodes, and 149 points behind Championship point leader Johnny Sauter.
Now Gragson will look to continue this streak of Top 10s to another unique racetrack, the ‘Tricky Triangle, Pocono Raceway.