A late crash opened the door for a first-time winner at the Contender Boats 250

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Andre C. Fernandez
·4 min read
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This time, Noah Gragson had the race won.

But with three laps to go in Saturday night’s Contender Boats 250 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gragson exited his car frustrated and trying to deal with a wrecked car and heartbreak for the third consecutive week.

Instead, Myatt Snider took home his first-ever Xfinity Series victory when he hung on for the final two laps in a double-overtime win after two late cautions.

Snider, who started in the No. 10 position, edged Tyler Reddick in a neck-and-neck finish. Brandon Jones finished third and Daniel Hemric finished fourth.

“I spun my wheels at the start and I even yelled, ‘Dammit,’ ” said Snider, who had seven career top 10 finishes prior to his victory. “But then I saw Tyler spin his wheels too and I knew I’d still have a chance. It ended up working out really well for me.”

Snider, a 26-year-old from Charlotte, became the second consecutive first-time winner so far this season following Ty Gibbs’ victory last week at the Daytona Road Course.

The 250.5-mile, 167-lap race underwent eight cautions and was the third consecutive Xfinity Series race to go to overtime to open the season.

But Gragson was left in disbelief after yet another setback kept him from winning what would have the third Xfinity Series race triumph of his career and first since his win in last year’s Cheddar’s 300 in Bristol.

Gragson hit David Starr’s No. 13 car from behind just as the seventh caution flag of the race was called and suffered heavy damage. Starr, who wasn’t racing among the leaders, was hugging the wall trying to move away, but slowed down quicker than Gragson expected and he couldn’t move out of the way in time.

Gragson led for a race-high 34 laps on Saturday before the crash.

Gragson was involved in a crash in a Daytona 500 qualifying race two weeks ago after he had driven from last place all the way up to fifth place before he was involved in a pileup with four laps to go.

At last week’s Daytona Road Course, Gragson opened the race with car trouble and spent the first three laps on pit road.

“What are you gonna do? You have [expletives] in the way every single week,” Gragson said during a TV interview with FS1. “But I’m very thankful for Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops. It’s a shame. We’ve dominated the last three races including this race only to have stuff happen like that.

“It’s definitely a bummer. We know who won this race based on speed. It’s unfortunate, but the only thing we know how to do is bounce back.”

It became a two-car race with about 35 laps to go as Gragson and Brett Moffitt battled for the lead.

But Moffitt lost a tire with nine laps to go and had to pull off to make a pit stop, allowing Gragson to pull ahead up until his accident.

MOTOR ISSUES COST BURTON

Harrison Burton, who won two Xfinity Series races last year including one of the two last year in Homestead, entered the race as one of the favorites and led briefly during the final 10 laps of Stage 1.

But Burton pulled off under caution at lap 69 and had to exit the race after smoke was seen coming out of the back of his car.

Burton, who has four career Xfinity Series victories, began the race in the No. 3 position.

THIS AND THAT

Defending Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric, 22, had the pole Saturday and led for the first 30 laps until he was overtaken by Gragson. Cindric moved back in front at lap 78 and won Stage 2 just as the race entered a caution again at lap 80. But Cindric, a three-time winner on the Homestead-Miami track, faded late and finished sixth.

AJ Allmendinger was the Stage 1 winner after starting 24th and taking the lead on lap 36. It was Allmendinger’s fifth career stage win and his first on a 1.5-mile course.

Former IndyCar racer and Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Santino Ferrucci made his Xfinity Series debut driving for Sam Hunt Racing in the No. 26 Toyota and finished 31st.