Gragson wins rain-shortened NASCAR Xfinity race at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Noah Gragson outran the rain and Justin Allgaier to win the rain-shortened NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Kansas Speedway.

Gragson survived a two-lap shootout to win the second stage, after which the race was considered official. He used a great restart after the race’s first caution to assume the lead and held the advantage when rain caused the caution flags to come out with eight laps left in the stage.

“We did our job," Gragson said. "I know rain-shortened races get kind of overlooked, but we weren’t in contention and we put ourselves in contention when the time was right. I think that’s the most important thing, We were able to pull it out.”

After some back-and-forth, NASCAR called the race official. Gragson won for the 10th time in the series, fifth time this season and second straight week after a dramatic victory at Darlington. Before Saturday, Kansas Speedway was the only track where he failed to record a top-10 finish.

“The goal is to make it to Phoenix and the final four, and it’s a challenge to make it to Phoenix,” Gragson said. “Right now the top of our mind is playoff points, stage wins, race wins and getting a stage two win and race win, those are really big.”

Allgaier finished second, followed by points leader Ty Gibbs. The Xfinity Series regular season will conclude next week at Bristol.

After running six laps under caution, NASCAR officials restarted the race with two laps left in the stage to give the drivers the opportunity not to finish the race under caution.

The rain arrived soon after the stage ended, with NASCAR red-flagging the race and bringing the cars back to pit road.

“I knew the rain was coming hard. I was just hoping we could get to halfway. Honestly I really didn’t want to go back to green for those last two laps of the stage,” Gragson said. “We did it and it ended up working out.”

It was the elements that provided the most drama Saturday. Weather was a concern before the race got underway, as NASCAR officials bumped up the green flag time by about 20 minutes.

The first stage was run without any incident. Gibbs jumped out to the lead on the opening lap and led the entire first stage.

Gibbs ran into Allgaeir coming off the final turn. It ultimately didn’t cause either driver a place, but both cars would’ve been damaged had the race continued. Gibbs apologized for his role in the incident.

“Before I made contact with Justin, I felt like I hit the wall harder than I did. I got mad and hit him in the door and the stupid part is it hurt my car more than it hurt his,” Gibbs said. “It’s just inexcusable for me and I’m very disappointed in my actions and I apologize to him.”