weather icon Clear

Las Vegan Noah Gragson fast out of box in NASCAR Xfinity Series

Last week before making his Xfinity Series debut at Richmond Raceway in Virginia, Noah Gragson predicted he was in for “a rude awakening” after moving up from the NASCAR Truck Series.

He finished second.

This week, the Las Vegas teenager was asked to define “rude.”

“I found a little something in the track, a little speed there at the end of the second stage on old tires,” Gragson told the stock car racing media after running second to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell. “I kept it in my memory banks till the end, and I told my team, ‘I’ve got something when it’s time to go — just tell me when.’

“And about 18 (laps) to go, I told them, ‘I can’t wait any longer; I don’t have any more patience.’ And I ran Christopher down to about two or three car lengths.”

It wasn’t quite enough.

Bell took the checkered flag .429 seconds ahead of Gragson, the 19-year-old lead driver for Kyle Busch’s Truck Series team who has a three-race Xfinity deal with Gibbs. The second one is this weekend at daunting Talladega Super Speedway in Alabama.

“Talladega, that one might come back in a ball or something,” Gragson said about high-speed pack racing at a restrictor-plate track known for crashes. “Man, I’m not too good of a restrictor-plate racer just because I don’t have a lot of experience.”

He’s predicting another rude awakening, so I would keep an eye on the No. 18 Toyota.

Some old racing news

West Coast stock car racing legend Hershel McGriff, 90, will drive a K&N West car for Bill McAnally Racing in twin races May 5 at Tucson (Arizona) Speedway.

His familiar No. 4 car will be sponsored by South Point resort, owned by Michael Gaughan, father of Brendan Gaughan, a former McGriff teammate. At 90, McGriff has a lot of those.

Wrote Brendan Gaughan on his Twitter account: “When I retired last year it was because I was ‘too old.’ But now this is my replacement? Go get’em Hershel! Ninety years young and I bet he still gets a top 10.”

McGriff, who won four Cup Series races in 1954, was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in a 1998 survey.

That Gaughan guy

Speaking of Brendan Gaughan, the 42-year-old semiretired racer — in Hershel McGriff years, he’s just a pup — will drive in another restrictor-plate race for part-time NASCAR car owner Chris Beard at this weekend’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Super Speedway.

This will be the second weekend-warrior type collaboration of 2018 for Beard and Gaughan, who had the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Chevy running in the lead pack during the closing laps of the season-opening Daytona 500 before being collected in a pileup.

It will be Gaughan’s 56th Cup Series start. His best finish was fourth — at Talladega — in 2004 driving for the legendary Roger Penske.

At the Bullring

Tyler Fabozzi raced to his second consecutive NASCAR Super Late Models 50-lap feature victory on Hometown Heroes Night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 21-year-old reigning U.S. Legends champion beat season points leader Jimmy Parker Jr. to the checkered flag by 1.736 seconds for his 10th career win at the three-eighths-mile paved oval.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Rain threatens Indianapolis 500

The forecast for Sunday calls for an 80 to 90 percent chance of rain, with thunderstorms expected throughout the day.

Indianapolis 500 to offer fans measles vaccine at race

IndyCar medical director Geoffrey Billows said Thursday a “very limited supply” of vaccines will be available at the medical building near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum.

NASCAR makes $2B deal with ISC, will gain 12 tracks

NASCAR announced a $2 billion merger agreement with International Speedway Corp. on Wednesday, an aggressive move to gain control of key racetracks.

Owners split on guaranteed spots in Indy 500

Roger Penske supports guarantees for the 20-something cars that run all 17 of the IndyCar races, even if it’s a slap at tradition.