When JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson reflects on the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, he’s going to have a few what-ifs to think about. Saturday at Darlington will be one of them, and he’ll remember the Throwback Weekend for all the wrong reasons, specifically, how his team committed a major mistake that cost him $100,000.
Noah Gragson wins the first two $100,000 Dash for Cash bonuses
While Noah Gragson has yet to drive the No. 9 car to victory lane during the first nine races of the 2021 Xfinity Series season, the year has been an unquestionable success.
The 22-year-old has four top-10 finishes, including his best finish of the season, a second-place at Martinsville. While Gragson earned a runner-up finish at Martinsville, he won the $100,000 bonus prize in the first Dash 4 Cash contest of the season, edging out the three other eligible drivers — Justin Allgaier, AJ Allmendinger, and Harrison Burton. He gave the money to his team and said they had been through a lot in the last year, dealing with the pandemic.
In the next Dash 4 Cash race at Talladega, Gragson finished sixth overall but again found himself in front of the other drivers eligible for the bonus — Josh Berry, Daniel Hemric, and Brandon Jones — and walked away with another $100,000.
Interestingly, in a bit of foreshadowing, Gragson lost both of the ceremonial oversized check placards he received.
“I have the one from Atlanta last year, but I don’t know where the one from Martinsville went,” Gragson told NASCAR.com. “I got back to the shop, and there’s a Big Check Bandit at the shop somewhere from the Martinsville check, and then there’s a Big Check Bandit here at Talladega. So we’ve got to find this person because they’re stealing all the checks.”
Finishes fourth at Darlington and wins his third Dash 4 Cash prize
At Darlington, Gragson had another strong outing, along with the rest of his JR Motorsports teammates. Justin Allgaier won the race ahead of Josh Berry, with Gragson coming in fourth. Rounding out the team, Michael Annett finished seventh.
Once again, Gragson finished ahead of the other contenders vying for the Dash 4 Cash prize. Following the race, he admitted that he was disappointed with the finish but pleased with collecting his third big payout.
“It’s our third $100,000 bonus in a row,” he said in the postrace interview. “I want to say thank you to Xfinity, Comcast, everybody that makes that possible…Do they have a bonus if you win all four of the Dash for Cash because we’re on a pretty damn good roll here.”
Noah Gragson disqualified and loses $100,000
Gragson’s excitement after winning a third consecutive $100,000 bonus payout was short-lived. NASCAR officials informed the No. 9 team that the car had failed postrace inspection.
According to NASCAR, the car was disqualified for violating the rule, “All suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension and/or drivetrain component beyond normal rotation or suspension and/or drivetrain travel.”
“In the NASCAR Xfinity Series rule book, all L1 and L2 penalties found in-race and/or during at-track postrace inspection shall result in a race disqualification,” Wayne Auton, the NASCAR Xfinity Series managing director, said in a postrace Zoom.
Gragson’s loss is Allmendinger’s gain. He finished 12th and is the new $100,000 bonus winner.