Gragson triumphs, but Earnhardt shines in Talladega Xfinity race

GragsonTalladega Xfinity race

Noah Gragson won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega after three overtimes and a battle with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

GragsonTalladega Xfinity race

Justin Allgaier led the way into the third, two-lap overtime, with Gragson in fourth and Jeffrey Earnhardt in eighth.

Allgaier ran out of energy when the field turned green, allowing Gragson to take the lead. With one lap to go, Earnhardt had moved up to second and was pursuing Gragson for the victory.

Gragson nipped Earnhardt at the checkered flag by 0.131 seconds, his first victory at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and his second of the season.

Gragson and his No. 9 JR Motorsports squad sprinted to the frontstretech climb after a jubilant burnout.

“This (car) was awesome. This JR Motorsports team, they never quit,” Gragson said. “We had four really fast cars. Luke Lambert (crew chief) called a hell of a race. It came down to fuel strategy.

“There was one point where I said, ‘I can’t get up there. We just don’t have the car fast enough.’ But we never quit. That’s the most important thing.

“I’m so grateful for all these race fans out there. We’re at Talladega baby! Listen to them! I’m supposed to race tomorrow in the Cup race but Talladega Boulevard sounds a lot better right now to celebrate.”

Earnhardt’s second-place performance was bitter, as it was his finest of his career. Earnhardt was getting his first start in the No. 3 car of Richard Childress Racing, which was named after his grandfather, the late seven-time Cup winner Dale Earnhardt Sr.

“I just needed a push there at the end. Everyone got spread apart and it’s really hard to build a run by yourself without someone in the back,” he said.

“Unfortunately, our teammates got wiped out early. But man, I’m living a dream here. I was so thankful for this opportunity.”

A.J. Allmendinger placed third and won the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus, Landon Cassill was fourth, and Anthony Alfredo completed the top-five.

Jeb Burton, Riley Herbst, Joe Graf Jr., Myatt Snider, and Brett Moffitt rounded out the top ten.

Next weekend in Dover, Del., Gragson, Allmendinger, Cassill, and Sieg will compete for the season’s final $100,000 Dash4 Cash prize.

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Earnhardt, Grand Prix, IndyCar, Nascar, NASCAR Cup Series, Ross Chastain, Talladega, XFinity, Noah Gragson

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