Gragson wins 1st Truck Series race with Martinsville victory

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Noah Gragson celebrated his first Truck Series victory by impersonating Helio Castroneves and climbing the fence at Martinsville Speedway.

Then he took it a step further and did pullups while dangling from the fence.

It was a bit too much for the 19-year-old.

He vomited over the side of the racetrack wall after his climb.

That wasn’t Gragson’s only gaffe. He referred to Martinsville’s signature grandfather clock trophy as a “granddaddy watch,” then struggled later to discuss the historic piece.

“What the hell do you do with that thing, honestly? They don’t teach kids anymore how to tell time like that,” he said.

Gragson, who is from Las Vegas, won for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Busch, who also is from Las Vegas, uses that team to groom young talent.

That youthfulness was on full display as Gragson recalled how he started in racing.

“I was playing ‘NASCAR Inside Line’ the video game, around this place and it’s a lot of fun to play that game,” Gragson said. “I kind of had playbacks in my head those last couple laps. I was praying for no caution … I was thinking about making laps on that video game. Started off there and then to be actually racing here in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, it’s a great privilege and it’s awesome.”

Gragson is the 10th first-time Truck Series winner at Martinsville, and his victory denied a driver from earning an automatic berth in the championship race of the playoffs. He passed Crafton on the outside on a restart with 10 laps remaining, and it denied Crafton the ticket to the finale.

Busch praised his newest winner.

“It just goes to show you that these guys, given the opportunities that they have in KBM stuff, can do a good job,” Busch said. “Noah driving the thing to his first win was pretty cool.”

Crafton finished second after leading a race-high 102 laps.

The race at Martinsville was the first in the round of six for the series. Two drivers will be eliminated from the field, and Gragson is not championship-eligible.

Johnny Sauter was third. Both he and Crafton won a stage of Saturday’s race.

Harrison Burton was fourth and followed by Todd Gilliland.

Playoff-bound driver John Hunter Nemechek had a brake issue that caused his truck to slide into the outside wall early in the first stage. Nemechek immediately drove the truck behind the wall and he’s now 62 points behind playoffs leader Christopher Bell.

Bell spun in the third segment on Lap 122 after contact with Crafton. Bell recovered to finish eighth.


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