The moment occurred during practice for the United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway. FOX Sports played audio from Gragson’s discussion with crew chief Luke Lambert, which was nearly a word-for-word recreation of a heated discussion between Newman and Lambert.
“The worst race car I’ve had here in five years,” Gragson said over the radio. “10-4. We appreciate your positivity,” Lambert countered. The back-and-forth continued as Gragson and Lambert made several comments about positivity and being part of the team. Meanwhile, the analysts in the booth expressed some confusion while listening to the audio.
While Gragson “complained” about a bad race car over the radio, this was not actually the case. The driver of the No. 9 had one of the best cars in the field. He posted the second-fastest qualifying time to secure a spot on the front row next to Trevor Bayne. He then led 114 of the 200 laps and took Lambert back to Victory Lane for the first time since Newman’s Cup Series win at Phoenix in 2017.
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Newman’s Rant Took Place During the Playoffs
While Lambert and Newman celebrated one win together during their five seasons with Richard Childress Racing, they did not exactly have a banner campaign in 2018. They finished out their tenure with 36 starts and a mere nine top-10 finishes.
The infamous rant took place with two races remaining in the season. The trip to Phoenix Raceway was the penultimate event of the 2018 season, and it served as the final elimination race before the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
For Newman, the race at Phoenix also marked a mere two weeks before he left RCR and headed to a new organization. He started 22nd overall in the No. 31 Chevrolet before racing his way to an 11th-place finish.
While the conversation between Lambert and Newman lived on in infamy after the trip to Phoenix, the pair actually reconnected after some time apart. They joined forces again at Roush Fenway Racing to finish out the 2021 season, starting at the Charlotte Roval on October 10, 2021. Their final race together was the season finale at Phoenix Raceway when Newman finished 23rd in the No. 6 Ford Mustang.
The Partnership With Lambert Has Paid Dividends for Gragson
The 2022 Xfinity Series season — Gragson’s first with Lambert — is only four races deep, but the partnership has paid dividends. The No. 9 has a secure spot in the playoffs after his win at Phoenix, and he has a stranglehold on the points lead.
According to the updated standings from NASCAR, Gragson has 203 points after one win, four top-five finishes, three stage wins, and 203 laps led. He holds a 39-point advantage over Ty Gibbs, who won the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gragson’s teammate, Justin Allgaier, holds the third spot with 161 points.
If the first four races are any indication, Gragson and Lambert will only continue to make strides as they build chemistry together. The next task will be conquering the reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19. For now, however, Gragson and Lambert will celebrate their early-season success.