Gragson Bests Gibbs After Clean Battle at Pocono

The NASCAR Xfinity Series headed to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania on Saturday for their only visit to Pocono Raceway in the 2022 season.

With just five races to go before the playoffs begin, the stakes are continuing to rise for drivers on either side of the bubble. Coming into the race, Landon Cassill was holding on to the 12th and final playoff spot, leading Brandon Brown, Sheldon Creed, and Anthony Alfredo by 61, 63, and 69 points respectively.

Justin Allgaier rolled off on pole after an impressive qualifying effort, joined on the front row by Ty Gibbs. They were followed by Brandon Jones and AJ Allmendinger on row two, and Sammy Smith and Sheldon Creed on row three.

Ultimately it was Noah Gragson who collected the win, his third of the 2022 campaign and eighth of his career, after holding off a hard charging Ty Gibbs. The final six laps in particular had some very exciting racing between the pair of future stars. Gragson and Gibbs, typically two of the most aggressive drivers in the series, raced eachother very cleanly and respectfully, allowing the finish to not be tarnished by a nasty incident. Rather, the finish was allowed to be defined by two of the best in the series going toe to toe.

Leaving Pocono, AJ Allmendinger was able to retain the regular season points lead with a solid fourth place effort. Meanwhile along the playoff cut line, Sheldon Creed used a strong fifth place finish to trim the gap between himself and Landon Cassill – who finished 11th – down to 47 points, with Cassill trailing 11th place Ryan Sieg – who himself finished 15th – by only 10 points.

Next, the series heads to the Indianapolis Road Course with only four races left to go in the regular season.

AS IT HAPPENED:

Justin Allgaier jumped out to a fairly commanding lead early from the pole. Brandon Jones seemed to be the only car through the entirety of the first stage who could keep pace with the JR Motorsports #7.

On lap three, Alpha Prime Racing’s Rajah Caruth – the current ARCA points leader making just his third career Xfinity Series start – got into the back of Alex Labbe while exiting turn three, sending the pair sliding into the inside wall, where they both made heavy contact. Labbe called it the hardest hit of his career, with Caruth taking full responsibility for the wreck, saying he simply made a mistake clearing himself up the track.

The race ran green for the remainder of the first stage, with Justin Allgaier walking away with it.

Stage 1 results:

  1. Justin Allgaier
  2. Brandon Jones
  3. AJ Allmendinger
  4. Ty Gibbs
  5. Sheldon Creed
  6. Josh Berry
  7. Noah Gragson
  8. Sammy Smith
  9. Daniel Hemric
  10. Austin Hill

Stage 1 winner Justin Allgaier had a 19+ second pit stop at the stage break, falling all the way back to p9. Brandon Jones, Sheldon Creed, and Noah Gragson would be the first three cars off pit road, with Anthony Alfredo being the only car that stayed out. When the green flag dropped, Jones washed up the track, allowing Noah Gragson to take the lead.

On lap 8 of the stage, the #1 of Sam Mayer cut down his right rear tire, but safely made it to pit road without incident.

The second stage ran green the whole way, and saw Noah Gragson take the win.

Stage 2 results:

  1. Noah Gragson
  2. Ty Gibbs
  3. Brandon Jones
  4. Sheldon Creed
  5. Josh Berry
  6. Justin Allgaier
  7. AJ Allmendinger
  8. Landon Cassill
  9. Daniel Hemric
  10. Austin Hill

Stage break pit stops saw Austin Hill and Myatt Snider stay out from 10th and 17th respectively, with Noah Gragson winning the race off of pit road. Coming to the green, Myatt Snider was forced to come to pit road when a tire went down on the pace laps. Gragson would go on to take the lead from Hill with relative ease.

Coming out of turn three on the first lap of the final stage, a very scary wreck took place that saw the 27 of Jeb Burton catapulted into the air after getting squeezed between the inside wall and the spinning car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Thankfully, Burton easily climbed out of the car under his own power, casually waving to the relieved fans. The wreck kicked off after Santino Ferrucci spun by himself in front of the back half of the field. Burton, Stenhouse, and Ferrucci, as well as Jeremy Clements, and Ronnie Bassett Jr.

When the green flag came back out, Ty Gibbs powered by Noah Gragson to take his first lead of the afternoon. Just a few laps later on lap 53, Sammy Smith – making just his second career Xfinity Series start – drifted up the track, got into the side of Landon Cassill, and spun, making heavy contact with the outside wall.

The caution brought pit strategy into the equation, with some drivers pitting for just fuel (Gibbs, Berry, Allgaier, and others), and others pitting for tires and fuel (Gragson, Jones, and others further back in the field). Ty Gibbs won the race off pit road, but a few cars stayed out, including Brett Moffitt, Riley Herbst, and Brandon Brown.

The green flag flew and saw Riley Herbst jump out to the lead, with plenty of exciting racing back through the field as strategies clashed. Herbst would only hold the lead for a few laps however before being caught and passed by Josh Berry.

With 22 to go, Noah Gragson managed to run down and pass his JR Motorsports teammate. With six to go, Ty Gibbs managed to catch Gragson and challenge for the lead as the pair caught lapped traffic, but the #9 managed to hold off the challenge. On the final lap, Gibbs managed to pull even with Gragson again, but Gragson yet again held off the challenge, and secured his third win of the 2022 season.

Final Results:

  1. Noah Gragson
  2. Ty Gibbs
  3. Josh Berry
  4. AJ Allmendinger
  5. Sheldon Creed
  6. Sam Mayer
  7. Justin Allgaier
  8. Austin Hill
  9. Daniel Hemric
  10. Cole Custer
  11. Landon Cassill
  12. Riley Herbst
  13. Brandon Brown
  14. Myatt Snider
  15. Ryan Seig
  16. Anthony Alfredo
  17. Brandon Jones
  18. Brett Moffitt
  19. Kyle Weatherman
  20. Sage Karam
  21. Josh Williams
  22. Kyle Sieg
  23. Stefan Parsons
  24. Mason Massey
  25. Ryan Vargas
  26. Bayley Currey
  27. David Starr
  28. JJ Yeley
  29. Patrick Emerling
  30. Timmy Hill
  31. Sammy Smith (DNF)
  32. Jeremy Clements (DNF)
  33. Jeb Burton (DNF)
  34. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DNF)
  35. Santino Ferrucci (DNF)
  36. Ronnie Bassett Jr. (DNF)
  37. Alex Labbe (DNF)
  38. Rajah Caruth (DNF)

Published by Walker Skeeter

Walker is a 4th year climatology PhD candidate at the University of Delaware. Despite being a climate scientist, Walker has been a NASCAR fan for over 20 years! His favorite drivers are Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, and Alex Bowman in cup, and AJ Allmendinger, Tommy Joe Martins, and Ryan Vargas in Xfinity. Outside of racing, he enjoys talking about (and studying) the weather, watching Baltimore sports, and playing video games.

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