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Gragson led the most laps and captured the checkered flag in Arizona for his first win of the 2022 NXS season and the sixth victory of his career.
Brandon Jones, who got the lead through the final cycle of green-flag pit stops, was not able to hold back Gragson’s charge. He lost the lead with 13 laps to go after a brief battle.
Josh Berry, Trevor Bayne and John-Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top-five. Ty Gibbs, AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric, Landon Cassill and Justin Allgaier filled out the remainder of the top-ten.
“Feels great to get the Bass Pro Shops Camaro to Victory Lane,” an ecstatic Gragson said after climbing the fence. “Thank you to all you badass race fans for coming out. You guys are awesome.
“This team, this pit crew, everybody who makes this possible … the pit crew executed great. This team has been on a roll so far this year with all the top-three finishes in the first four races. Can’t thank everybody enough for all their hard work.”
The final stage went green with Allgaier in front. Bayne had to fall to the rear of the field after both he and Mayer were caught speeding. Bayne then had a sensational recovery to finish inside the top-five.
On the restart, the leaders fanned out three-wide and contact was made between Allgaier and Jones, sending the former up the track and back a few spots.
Jones would soon be overtaken by Nemechek, who put the Sam Hunt Racing car out front for a few laps. Ultimately, Gragson would once more assert himself as the car to beat and take the lead as the race passed the halfway point.
Gragson pulled out to a nearly three second advantage, which he maintained for most of the run. Green flag pit stops began around 35 laps to go with Gragson ducking in with 32 laps remaining. He rejoined behind Jones, but had plenty of time to make up the lost time.
Allgaier was penalized for running over equipment while Mayer got yet another speeding penalty.
With 13 laps to go, Gragon finally cleared Jones and pulled away, cruising to the checkered flag.
The drama started before the green flag even waved. Pole-sitter Bayne was having trouble getting his car fired and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team was scrambling to find a fix.
After a few tense moments, Bayne got rolling just before the race began. He led the field to the green flag and held off an early challenge from Gragson to hold the lead.
Creed and Allmendinger had a heated battle in the early laps, leading to some fiery words from Creed after he got moved out of the way.
The first caution of the race came when Riley Herbst’s No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford snapped around and slammed the wall, ending his day.
“I’m okay obviously, so just thankful to NASCAR. That’s probably one of the hardest hits I’ve ever taken. I thought we had a pretty good Monster Energy Ford. I just went into (Turn) 3, hit the brake pedal, it took a hard right and my foot went to the floor. So I don’t know what happened. Really really bummed.
He then added: “But yeah, that hurt.”
The race resumed with 12 laps to go in the stage with Gragson snatching the race lead away from Bayne. The former Daytona 500 winner fought back and after a thrilling back-and-forth battle, he won the stage in a photo finish.
He was followed by Gragson, Jones, Nemechek, Gibbs, Allgaier, Cassill, Allmendinger, Berry, and Mayer.
After the stage, Bayne told FS1 that he ‘feels really good’ about his car and says he has a lot of long run speed.
Jones won the race off pit road and took control of the race for the start of the second stage. Bayne lost three positions on pit road and came out in fourth.
On the restart, Gragson got ahead of Jones, but the caution flag quickly came back out. Ty Gibbs got turned off the nose of Josh Berry and went for a harrowing spin in front of the field. Thankfully, everyone avoided his sideways car.
Jones fought back on the ensuing restart, but Gragson would again prevail before pulling away.
Gragson took the stage win ahead of Allgaier, who got the position from Jones right at the line. They were followed by Bayne, Berry, Nemechek, Allmendinger, Hemric, Cassill, and Mayer.