by Brian Turrel
Noah Gragson knew the rain was coming — he’d known it since he checked the radar when got to the track in the morning. As the drops started to hit his windshield midway through the Kansas Lottery 300, he knew he needed to make a move.
Stuck for most of the race behind the speedy Toyota of Ty Gibbs, Gragson made the most of a lap 76 restart to get past Gibbs and Austin Hill for the lead.
The caution flag was flown for rain on lap 82, setting up some final drama as the drivers raced each other and the incoming rain.
On the lap 88 restart, Gragson held off teammate Justin Allgaier for the lead into turn 2, and Allgaier provided an assist by riding Gibbs up to the outside of the track to prevent him from making a move for the lead.
The race was red-flagged on lap 93. Drivers left their cars on pit road and headed to the garages, sensing that the race was over, but having to wait several minutes before word arrived from NASCAR that the result was final.
After the win, Gragson’s fifth of the year, the 24-year-old talked wistfully about his JR Motorsports team, which he will leave at the end of the season for a seat with Petty GMS in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“I think we have a great group of people,” said the Las Vegas native. “I really don’t want it to change. I’ve been thinking over these last two or three weeks, ‘It’s coming to an end.'”
“And it’s bittersweet because I’m in love with everybody at Junior Motorsports. I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had in my racing career, and I don’t want it to ever stop, but things move on.”
Allgaier finished the raced in second, followed by Gibbs. Brandon Jones started on pole and finished fourth, and Ross Chastain finished fifth. Sam Mayer (9th) and Riley Herbst (16th) clinched positions in the Xfinity Series playoffs, starting in two weeks.
The final regular season race will be held next Saturday in Bristol, Tennessee.
The ARCA Series Kansas Lottery 150, originally scheduled for Saturday evening, was postponed to Sunday morning at 9 a.m., and the NASCAR Series Kansas Lottery 400 will start at 2 p.m.