NASCAR: Gragson outlasts Earnhardt in OT at Talladega

It was an Earnhardt Saturday in Earnhardt country.

Grabbing the lead on a restart in the third overtime, Noah Gragson—driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports—won the Ag-Pro 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series at Talladega Superspeedway.

Gragson beat Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr., who was driving a black No. 3 Chevrolet in a special appearance for Richard Childress Racing, which fielded Dale Sr.’s car during his heyday.

On the mammoth 2.66-mile track where Dale Sr. won a record 10 times and Dale Jr. added another six, Jeffrey Earnhardt crossed the finish line .131 seconds behind Gragson, who won for the first time at Talladega, the second time this season and the seventh time in his career.

Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, Brett Moffitt, driver of the #02 Hometown Lenders Chevrolet, and Sam Mayer, driver of the #1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23, 2022 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Gragson grabbed the lead when JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier ran out of fuel as he led the field to the third-overtime restart on Lap 123. The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet held the top spot the rest of the way as Earnhardt worked his way forward from his eighth-place restarting position.

Moments after the race, Gragson was already planning his celebration in the notorious Talladega infield.

“This team at Jr. Motorsports, they never quit,” Gragson said. “We’ve had a kind of a rough last month, just not getting the finishes that we wanted … I couldn’t make moves on the top there very much at the beginning of the race, so I just kept running the bottom—running the bottom—and we’d get shuffled back and keep moving back up.

“I’ve got to run in the Cup race (on Sunday), but the Talladaga Boulevard looks a lot more enchanting right now and inviting, so I might have to go out there and then throw some beads.”

On the second of the two overtime laps, Earnhardt slipped past AJ Allmendinger for second but couldn’t catch Gragson through the tri-oval.

“I’m living the dream here—I’m just so thankful to get this opportunity,” said Earnhardt, whose crew chief, FOX Sports broadcaster Larry McReynolds, was serving his first stint on a pit box since 2000. “Thanks to RCR for building this amazing race car. We were fast all weekend long.

“We just fell a little short there, but congrats to Noah. He’s good at plate races.”

Allmendinger had led on the second overtime restart and appeared to have control of the race when Jeremy Clements’ Chevrolet stalled in Turn 2 to cause the 10th and final caution of the race. With his third-place result, however, Allmendinger claimed the $100,000 Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonus available to the top finisher among four eligible drivers.

“I thought I crashed about seven times on the last lap,” Allmendinger said. “I really appreciate what Xfinity and Comcast do to allow us to race for 100 grand at these four races. I didn’t realize that the 7 (Allgaier) started laying back, and you can’t take off before him. I was really checking up when he ran out of fuel.

“At that point, the 9 (Gragson) had such a run. This Chevy handled really well. We just lacked kind of the top-end speed, so they could get to my bumper, then basically boot me out of the way. I was just hanging on there. Jeffrey did a good job to make the move (for second place).”

Austin Hill, winner of the season opener at Daytona, led a race-high 67 laps and was out front with fewer than four laps left when Sam Mayer lost control of his Chevrolet in the outside lane and knocked Hill’s Chevy into the infield wall. Both cars were damaged too severely to continue.

Ryan Sieg and Landon Cassill finished fourth and fifth behind Allmendinger, with Cassill scoring his second straight top-five result. Anthony Alfredo, Riley Herbst, Joe Graf Jr., Myatt Snider and Brett Moffitt completed the top 10.

Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, and team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. pose for photos in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23, 2022 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Race Results

Fin Str No. Driver Team Laps Status Led
1 19 9 Noah Gragson Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet 124 Running 7
2 1 3 Jeffrey Earnhardt ForeverLawn Chevrolet 124 Running 10
3 13 16 AJ Allmendinger Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet 124 Running 6
4 10 38 Ryan Sieg A-GAME Ford 124 Running 0
5 6 10 Landon Cassill Voyager Crypto Debit Card Chevrolet 124 Running 0
6 12 23 Anthony Alfredo Dude Wipes Chevrolet 124 Running 3
7 20 98 Riley Herbst Monster Energy Ford 124 Running 0
8 24 7 Joe Graf Jr Bucked Up Energy Drink Ford 124 Running 0
9 31 31 Myatt Snider TaxSlayer Chevrolet 124 Running 0
10 18 2 Brett Moffitt Hometown Lenders Chevrolet 124 Running 0
11 16 8 Josh Berry PUBG MOBILE Chevrolet 124 Running 5
12 21 36 Alex Labbe Larue Industrial Snow Blowers Chevrolet 124 Running 0
13 9 18 Drew Dollar Lynx Capital Toyota 124 Running 1
14 32 53 Shane Lee Kitty Cat Coin Ford 124 Running 0
15 22 27 Jeb Burton Rocky Boots Chevrolet 124 Running 0
16 36 35 Joey Gase Kitty Cat Coin Ford 124 Running 0
17 29 4 Bayley Currey Habana Brisa Chevrolet 124 Running 0
18 37 39 Kyle Sieg # TA Services/C2 Freight Ford 124 Running 0
19 26 78 Josh Williams Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet 124 Running 0
20 7 6 Ryan Vargas Hempvana MaxStrngthPainRelief Chevrolet 124 Running 0
21 33 47 Gray Gaulding SafeHedge Chevrolet 123 Running 0
22 11 7 Justin Allgaier Fight Hunger Spark Change Chevrolet 122 Fuel Pressure 13
23 34 51 Jeremy Clements One Stop/ASE Chevrolet 122 Running 0
24 4 2 Sheldon Creed # Whelen Chevrolet 113 Accident 1
25 23 45 Caesar Bacarella Lilly Finance Chevrolet 113 Accident 0
26 15 19 Brandon Jones Menards/Atlas Toyota 110 DVP 0
27 2 21 Austin Hill # Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet 110 Accident 67
28 14 1 Sam Mayer Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet 109 Accident 2
29 8 48 Kaz Grala(i) Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet 103 Accident 0
30 17 68 Brandon Brown Trade The Chain Chevrolet 103 Accident 1
31 27 5 Matt Mills J.F. Electric Chevrolet 96 Accident 0
32 38 44 Ryan Ellis Heartbeat Hot Sauce Chevrolet 84 DVP 0
33 35 8 David Starr TicketSmarter/Special Report Ford 83 DVP 1
34 5 11 Daniel Hemric Cirkul – Water Your Way Chevrolet 79 DVP 0
35 3 54 Ty Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota 76 Accident 5
36 28 66 JJ Yeley RHS USA/Coble Enterprises Chevrolet 51 DVP 2
37 25 91 Mason Massey Anderson Power Services Chevrolet 47 Accident 0
38 30 26 Chandler Smith(i) ChargeMe/VITAL Toyota 47 Accident 0