In a turn of events, Noah Gragson‘s fourth-place finish from Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway has been restored after a successful appeal. On Wednesday, NASCAR announced JR Motorsports‘s appeal of his disqualification has resulted in it being overturned, re-elevating him from last back into the top five and granting him his $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize.
Gragson finished fourth in Saturday’s Steakhouse Elite 200, three positions behind JRM team-mate Justin Allgaier, and won his third straight Dash 4 Cash race. However, his #9 car failed post-race inspection as it was found to have broken Rule 20.14.c of the rulebook: “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.”
This resulted in his first career disqualification and the second such punishment in 2021 after Tyler Reddick suffered the same fate at Homestead in March. However, JRM submitted an appeal (which costs $2,500 at the Xfinity level) afterward. Although appeals are generally unsuccessful, Roger Werner, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, elected to drop the penalty; Werner is new to the position after joining before the 2021 season, and previously worked as a television executive who founded what would become SPEED Channel (now FS1, on which Saturday’s Xfinity race was broadcast).
As noted, it is very uncommon for a team to successfully overturn a penalty on appeal. Per Jayski’s Silly Season Site during its stay at ESPN.com, 161 appeals from 1999 to 2019 have resulted in just twelve overturned penalties; of the 21 final appeals, only one accomplished its goal. In 2020, Xfinity driver Alex Labbé was able to get his penalty reversed for testing at the Daytona Road Course.
With his finish and Dash 4 Cash restored, Gragson can now go for the latter’s sweep by finishing ahead of the other D4C drivers in Saturday’s race at Dover. He will start the race in third after being set at twenty-seventh prior to the ruling.
“Everyone at JR Motorsports strives to bring four fast and competitive racecars to the track each and every week and we are happy to see that the ruling was overturned,” JRM general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller stated. “The #9 team put together a racecar that allowed Noah to win his third Dash 4 Cash prize and compete for the sweep this weekend at Dover International Speedway.”
A.J. Allmendinger, who initially finished twelfth at Darlington but is bumped down to thirteenth with Wednesday’s ruling, was the previous D4C leg winner. His Kaulig Racing team remarked on Twitter that their celebration has “aged like milk”.