Noah Gragson earned his third consecutive victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Friday night in the regular-season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The caution flag flew on Lap 271 for the final time, sending race leader Justin Allgaier down pit road. Unfortunately for the No. 7 JR Motorsports driver, he was issued a speeding penalty and shuffled to the tail end of the longest line. After dominating and leading a race-high 148 laps, Allgaier settled for ninth at the checkered flag.
Gragson rolled the dice to stay out on old tires after last pitting on Lap 174 of the 300-lap marathon. Brandon Jones lined up on the inside of the front row, first among drivers with a fresh set of Goodyear rubber.
Jones tried to make the pass, lap after lap, but Gragson was able to fight off his attempts to make a pass on the inside, securing his second career win at the “Last Great Colosseum” in the Xfinity Series. Jones settled in second, 0.145 seconds behind the No. 9 of Noah Gragson.
Austin Hill, Sam Mayer and Riley Herbst rounded out the top five.
With Gibbs out of the race, Allmendinger scored enough points in Stage 2 to clinch his second consecutive regular season championship.
But Saturday night’s regular-season finale had more on the line than just a Bristol trophy and regular-season title: two playoff spots were up for grabs.
Hopeful Sheldon Creed was collected in a Stage 2 incident with Gragson and Ty Gibbs, retiring both Creed and Gibbs from the race and eliminating Creed from playoff contention.
Daniel Hemric struggled early, finishing two laps down in 20th. But the defending series champion was able to clinch another playoff berth by way of points. Ryan Sieg’s 10th-place effort was enough for him to grab the 12th and final position in the postseason.
The Xfinity Series Playoffs begin Saturday, Sept. 24 at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300.