The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers headed onto Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, May 22, for the first-ever trip around the road course. JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson had the goal of securing his first checkered flag of the season, but a major mechanical issue disrupted his day. He slid around one of the turns at the very end of Stage 1 while flames spewed out from under his No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro.
The issues came as a surprise to the Fox Sports broadcast team. Adam Alexander, Ryan Blaney, and Bubba Wallace saw Gragson spin, but they did not realize there was a significant issue until the broadcast returned from commercial break. The cameras then showed the tow truck hooking up to the No. 9 Chevrolet, as well as a large amount of fluid on the track.
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) May 22, 2021
According to Gragson’s radio transmission, he said that he was done and that the engine had blown. Gragson later told Fox Sports reporter Jamie Little that he had stopped for four tires and adjustments while under caution and that everything seemed fine. He also clarified that he had not run over any of the steel turtles or ripped the oil pan from the car. His day still came to an end with a 33rd-place finish.
Gragson is Not the Only Driver That Dealt With Mechanical Issues
And then Ross Chastain goes behind the wall with a mechanical issue. Wow. pic.twitter.com/sxVzptLPWo
— Vincent Bruins (@VincentJBruins) May 22, 2021
There were several drivers that struggled with issues during the first-ever race at COTA. Boris Said, who returned to the track for the first time since 2017, brought out the first caution flag for incident. His No. 13 Toyota Supra stalled on the track and could not make a return to pit road.
Ross Chastain also dealt with significant issues of his own while replacing an injured Joe Graf Jr. The driver of the No. 07 cut through the esses early in Saturday’s race, resulting in a pass-through penalty. However, Chastain revealed that he would not complete the race by immediately heading to the garage with a broken axle.
“Chastain will take the car to the truck for a broken axle … some laughed at NASCAR calling for a pass-through penalty in this area because going over those curbs would break something,” Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass tweeted on Saturday afternoon.
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