In a wild race that saw multiple three-wide lead changes, several hard crashes, and even a red flag for snow, Ty Gibbs stole the lead on a late restart and didn’t look back, leading only the final six laps of the Alsco Uniforms 300 for his first win of 2022.
AJ Allmendinger and Josh Berry, the two Las Vegas winners from 2021, led the field to green, but the early story was at the back of the pack. Sixteen cars were forced to start from the rear, most due to violations of a cost-saving rule that required teams to run the same cars they had entered last week at Fontana.
While Allmendinger wheeled the #16 to an early lead, Gibbs aggressively pushed his way forward from the rear of the field. On lap four, battling Ryan Sieg for 12th, Gibbs made contact with the rear bumper of the #39 CMR Roofing Ford, sending Sieg into the SAFER barrier on the outside of turn four. Sieg was able to keep his car pointed in the right direction, but the caution came out anyway for a blown motor on Brennan Poole’s #47.
Following cleanup, a sudden downpour delayed the restart. The field filed onto pit road under the red flag, but this was no ordinary downpour. Nevada native Noah Gragson was the first to report– it was snowing in Las Vegas.
During the 42-minute delay for a casual, run-of-the-mill desert snowstorm, Sieg confronted Gibbs on pit road, warning reporters that Gibbs “was gonna learn his lesson, if you know what I mean.”
Within 10 laps of the restart, Sieg was black-flagged, for slowing on the apron while waiting for Gibbs to lap him. Sieg blocked Gibbs up the track towards the turn four wall but got loose, spinning out and collecting Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed.
As laps ticked off in the first stage, Allmendinger fell back as JRM teammates Gragson and Sam Mayer dueled for the race lead, with Gragson winning out in the #9.
On the restart, Mayer retook the lead from Creed, who hadn’t pitted between the stages. After a quick caution for the #34 of Jesse Iwuji, Gragson jumped out front. He held the lead for the rest of the stage, sweeping stage one and two for the second time in his career.
Stage two ended under caution for a violent crash involving Joe Graf Jr. and Matt Mills. Graf, driving the SS Greenlight Ford that Cole Custer won with in Fontana, collided with the #91 DGM Racing car of Mason Massey, and then hit Mills’ #5 in the right-front, sending the BJ McLeod-owned Chevy into the inside SAFER barrier at top speed. Although it took Mills several minutes to climb out of his stricken car, he since thankfully has been checked and released from the infield care center. This was Graf’s second run-in with a DGM Camaro on the day, after previously causing the collision that damaged Kyle Weatherman’s #92.
The third stage began with Brandon Brown leading the field to green on old tires, followed by Mayer and Austin Hill, who had both beaten stage winner Gragson off pit road. While Brown dropped back, eventually suffering a tire issue that put him multiple laps down, Hill and Mayer remained up front, as Justin Allgaier moved into the top-five in the Brandt-sponsored #7.
The track stayed green for a while as Allgaier outraced Gragson, Hill, and Mayer to take a commanding lead. His lead grew when second-place Gragson made an unscheduled pit stop to change what he thought was a right-front tire beginning to cord.
Although Gragson emerged with the lead after the rest of the pack followed him to pit road, it wasn’t for long. Allgaier soon got back past him and built a gap of a few seconds. Gragson’s crew chief, Luke Lambert, reported that the #9 car would be two laps short on fuel if the race went green to the end. As Gragson ran at half-throttle, Allgaier pulled away.
Unfortunately for Allgaier, the caution came out with 29 to go, after Jesse Iwuji got loose while running in a pack, leaving Ryan Vargas and Stefan Parsons with nowhere to go.
On the restart Noah Gragson, now good to go on fuel, took the lead on a three-wide move. His teammate Sam Mayer slapped the SAFER barrier after contact with Brandon Jones, bringing out the yellow once again.
Defending champion Daniel Hemric joined Gragson at the front for the restart, but once again the caution came out. Ryan Truex, racing this week in JGR’s #18, got loose while running underneath Austin Hill’s #21, and overcorrected, hitting Hill in the left front and sending him hard into the wall at the exit of turn four. Riley Herbst, John Hunter Nemechek, and Ryan Ellis suffered damage while trying to avoid the crash.
The final restart came with five laps to go. Gragson started to the outside of Ty Gibbs, with Hemric and Allgaier lined up behind them. Gragson mistimed the start, letting Gibbs take the lead with a push from Gragson’s teammate Allgaier. As guest analyst Joey Logano predicted, once a car got into clean air, it wasn’t possible to pass them. Gibbs led the final five laps of the race, scoring his first win of 2022 and the fifth of his young career. Gragson was second at the line, with Hemric, Josh Berry, and Allgaier completing the top five.
Featured Photo from Xfinity Racing on Twitter