Noah Gragson made his second-ever NASCAR Cup Series start on March 20 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his first with Kaulig Racing. He set out to complete laps and gain critical experience, but a massive collision with the wall sent him to the infield care center early.
Gragson started 30th overall in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro, but he began working his way through the field. He was running 17th overall on Lap 24 when he lost control of the stock car on Turn 2. Gragson tried to correct the No. 16 as it started to slide, but the move sent it hard into the outside wall.
Gragson’s stock car slid down across the track, leaking fluid on the racing surface. He was ultimately able to climb from the destroyed vehicle after the incident, and he headed to the infield care center for further evaluation. There were numerous other drivers in danger of hitting the No. 16, but they were all able to avoid the incident as the caution flag waved.
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Gragson’s First Cup Series Start Also Ended Early
The perennial NASCAR Xfinity Series contender will make starts in roughly half of the Cup Series races in 2022 with Kaulig Racing and Beard Motorsports. This schedule will provide him with the opportunity to gain critical experience, but his first two starts have come to an early end.
Gragson was able to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 in the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro by posting one of the two-fastest qualifying times among the open teams. He guaranteed that he would compete in the Crown Jewel race.
Gragson turned heads during his first-ever Cup Series start. He raced in the top 10 multiple times throughout the Daytona 500, and he moved up to eighth overall with fewer than 20 laps remaining.
Unfortunately for Beard Motorsports, the situation changed with fewer than 10 laps remaining. A sizable wreck unfolded and collected Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Gragson, Chase Elliott, Todd Gilliland, and Erik Jones. This incident dropped the No. 62 from the top 10 all the way to 31st.
The Las Vegas Native Had a Rough Atlanta Weekend
There were multiple drivers that enjoyed the new version of Atlanta Motor Speedway. Corey Heim won his first Camping World Truck Series race while two DGM Racing drivers posted top-10 finishes in the Xfinity Series.
Gragson’s first race at Atlanta Motor Speedway started well. He began the Xfinity Series race on the pole and he led 38 total laps. However, a massive crash out of his control derailed his opportunity to secure his fifth consecutive top-five finish of the year.
The incident unfolded during the final stage. Trevor Bayne tried to make a move in front of AJ Allmendinger, but the No. 18 Toyota went up into the outside wall. It remained pinned against the wall before sliding back down into the middle lane and colliding with the side of Josh Berry’s No. 8.
This hit sent Berry into the side of Gragson’s No. 9 and kicked off a chain reaction. He spun into the wall while other drivers began crashing. According to Racing Reference, there were 12 total vehicles involved in the incident.
Gragson was ultimately able to make his return to the track after JR Motorsports conducted extensive repairs. He spent the remainder of the race trying to gain ground before ultimately finishing 26th.