NASCAR WIRE: Saturday Phoenix Notebook

JR Motorsport drivers are proud of their season despite not winning the title

Avondale, Arizona. – Noah Gragson drove into a pit road after the NASCAR Xfinity Series final on Saturday, jumped out, slammed his helmet onto the roof, put his hands on his hips and looked down in disappointment.

After a gritty fight – all 200 laps of the race at Phoenix Raceway – he finished runner-up to rival Ty Gibbs – just 397 seconds away from the title capping a season with a career and statistical victory. .

It hurts. But Gregson remained buoyed by his best career efforts in the NASCAR spotlight.

“Executing in the stations, we just needed to be better as a Bass Pro Shops team, but we are still proud of everyone’s efforts,” said Gragson as his team flanked his car and offered him a pat on the back and encouragement.

Moments later, he walked down a pit path and shook hands with Gibbs – a huge sign of respect given the intense and fierce relationship between the two opponents, who both raced so hard for the championship.

“They did a good job, they hit us,” 24-year-old Gregson said of the gesture, adding, “I think he has the ability to learn. He’s a great race car driver and I’ve been in those shoes too.”

From the outside, this championship fight actually looked like a converging advantage for the Gragson’s JR Motorsports team, which provided cars for three of the four drivers eligible for the title. Veteran Justin Algaer finished third, behind Gregson and teammate Josh Perry in 13th.

For most of the race, the quartet – Gibbs, Gragson, Algayer and Perry – was a mixture of 1-2-3-4 on the racetrack, the toughest of the championship fights.

“I don’t know why we end up with one, two, three, four races in these races, if you look at the history of this race – whether it’s here or [past Championship 4 site] Homestead (Florida) whoever it is, the last four are up to the top and we were all racing our guts,” Alger said.

“It’s not that anyone is letting you go. I might look at it differently, but it was great to have all four of us there fighting, I obviously know Josh had this problem on the reboot, but it was great to have all of us there. We fight and make it as clean as it was tonight.”

“The hardest part is that no one from GR Motorsports has gone to Victory Lane,” he added. “I wanted it for everyone who works there. … We just lost. But proud of everyone’s efforts all week.”

With his second-place finish, Gregson finished the season with eight wins, 21 in the top five and 25 in the top ten in 33 races, and drove over 1,000 laps. He will drive the #42 Chevrolet Petty GMS Chevrolet next year in the NASCAR Cup Series.

“I could put my head down after the eighth reboot with 25-30 to go and get ready for second and almost had a chance to win the race, I’m satisfied with that,” said Gregson, adding, “I absolutely did my best, I pushed my ass, I did. My best and everything I had, I just got defeated. I can’t really hang my head after our season.”

Allgaier finished third in seventh place at JR Motorsports at Chevrolet, and his 15th was his fifth and 23rd in this year’s top ten. He won three races. Perry, was also a three-time winner of the JR Motorsports #8 Chevrolet, earning 11 in the top five and 20 in the top 10 in his first full season in the series.

Austin Hill wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year

Austin Hill won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year – taking a pair of wins in his first season driving Richard Childress Racing’s #21 Chevrolet.

Hill, 28, of Winston, Ga. , had a particularly strong first full season in the series; He won the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and then again at his home circuit in Atlanta this summer – the only rookie to win a race in 2022.

He scored ninth in the Phoenix Final and finished off the rookie title with 11 top five spots and 21 top ten spots.

Hill’s RCR teammate, Sheldon Creed, finished second in the rallies, followed by Kyle Seig and Jesse Iogee.