OBSERVATIONS: JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has produced exciting races all year long, and the JEGS 200 did not disappoint.
The series got their first repeat winner of the season, courtesy of Johnny Sauter. If anybody had any doubt that GMS Racing would not be affected by Spencer Gallagher’s suspension, he quickly erased those concerns with a victory.
However, a fifth straight different victor wasn’t far from distance, given the performance by Noah Gragson. After winning the pole in qualifying, he led the entire first stage, before fading back to seventh due to a slow pit stop. However, he was able to regain the lost track position, challenging Sauter for the win in the closing laps. Ultimately, it didn’t pan out as he wanted, getting loose, turning the truck around backwards and crashing into the wall.
Although some may be harsh on the young driver for crashing the truck, you also have to look at the flip side of the coin where if you critique too much, you’ll lose that fire. Fans crave for seeing drivers battling as hard as they can, but are also the first to complain should things go wrong. In a world where we want to see the hardest racing possible, it’s better to have someone try and go over that edge, then watch everybody just fall in line to the checkered.
Stupid move yes, but I’d watch a race full of Noah Gragson’s before I’d watch a race full of other young drivers. Guy tries everything to win it. Wears his heart on his sleeve.
— Ryan Ellis (@ryanellisracing) May 4, 2018
It’ll also be a crucial growing experience for Gragson, too, as he will learn from the mistake that he made and become a better driver moving forward. Just look at Christopher Bell. He made some errors during the beginning of his truck series career, but yet has turned around to be one of the most talented to watch now in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
The first step in growing is taking responsibility, and he did just that.
“Just pushed it over the limit and I take full responsibility for what happened,” Gragson said. “Just sometimes – it’s so hard to win these things, so you give 100 percent and sometimes you cross the line when you’re in the situation like that. I was racing for the win and tried to side draft him and we hit off each other and I went around. It’s just hard racing – no fault to Johnny (Sauter). I respect him as a driver and that’s just a racing deal.”
Of course, Gragson wasn’t the only driver who threw his race away as others did the same, and much earlier in the event. Cue the cautions flying in the first couple of laps, ruining the days for various drivers including Stewart Friesen and Brett Moffit right off the drop of the green on Lap 2. For Moffitt, it’s extra disappointing as he had a strong start to 2018 thus far, highlighted by the victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He had worked his way at rebounding from the trouble, until an incident later on in the event.
Other teams managed to beat themselves with pit road penalties. Gragson was able to rebound from his, but others that were hit with similar issues including Jesse Little, Todd Gilliland, David Gilliland and Harrison Burton. All three were able to make their way back to the front, though, scoring top-10 finishes. Just imagine if they would’ve avoided the penalties.
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