With the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series taking a week off, Matt Crafton had a break this weekend. In the meantime, Noah Gragson and Ty Dillon both seemed like men on a mission at the Michigan International Speedway and had their heads in the game for the New Holland 250 and Firekeepers Casino 400.
Gragson held first position during the practice race and won the pole, setting himself up for success before the New Holland 250 had even kicked off. This was the third race in the 2022 season that he’d started from the top spot, and his starting position was the best he’d had at the Michigan International Speedway in three starts. Going into the actual race, he led 39 laps, won Stage One, lost the lead a little bit during Stage Two, but ended up winning the second stage as well. After a pit stop at the beginning of Stage Three, Gragson restarted in 15th position but managed to work his way back up the track, and within two laps, he was back in the top 10.
After continuing to gain spots throughout Stage Three, Gragson ended up in third position at lap 110, and at the end of the 125 laps of the stage, that was where he finished. This third-place finish gives Gragson his 11th top-five and 15th top-10 finish of the season. Thanks to his sweep of the stages, he continues to hold on to second place in the series, with just five races remaining before the playoffs begin.
“I felt like we had a good enough Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Coastalvir giniadriving Chevrolet to get back to the front, but we struggled on the short run,” Gragson said. “We were really good, won the first stage, and then kind of got shuffled back in the second stage. We decided to stay out to win the second stage. After we pitted, those other guys came back on the tires they had. I felt like we were good enough to win, and we could have been sitting in Victory Lane. The stage and playoff points were valuable, and we’ll use them to our advantage.”
Ty Dillon kicked off the Firekeepers Casino 400 in 25th position, and though he didn’t get into the top 10 for any of the three stages, he managed to avoid a wreck just 26 laps into the race that changed the outcome of the race for nine other drivers. Dillon ended up finishing the race in 14th, one of the best positions he’s finished in throughout the 2022 Cup Series. Overall in the Cup Series, Dillon sits at 30th place with 326 points.
Where to find the drivers next: Matt Crafton heads to Richmond Raceway for the second of the Round of 10 playoff races, the TSport 200, on Saturday, Aug. 13. Dillon heads to Richmond as well for the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Sunday. Gragson gets a week off and heads to Watkins Glen International in New York for his next race on Aug. 20.