Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

Checks out: Noah Gragson registers second Dash 4 Cash bonus at Talladega

Noah Gragson is 2-for-2 in collecting $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonuses in this year’s edition of the NASCAR Xfinity Series initiative. He’s also a perfect 2-for-2 in somehow losing the giant display checks with his name on them.

Gragson finished sixth in Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, outdistancing three other eligible drivers — Josh Berry, Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones — for the six-figure payout. He is halfway to a clean sweep of the four-race promotion but has none of the fancy Dash 4 Cash check placards to show for it.

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“I have the one from Atlanta last year, but I don’t know where the one from Martinsville went,” Gragson said, noting his April 11 reward at the Virginia short track. “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.”

The 22-year-old Vegas native led four times for eight laps in a quest for his first victory of the Xfinity Series season. That stretch of time up front included a convincing Stage 2 win with JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier pushing him to the green-checkered flag.

Gragson remained in the hunt until two caution periods slowed the final stage, all before a drenching rain shower forced the event to be stopped with 90 of a scheduled 113 laps complete. While the victory instead went to first-time winner Jeb Burton, Gragson was able to take measure of consolation in the Dash 4 Cash prize.

“I think it’s huge. We really want to win races, but I think that extra bonus through Xfinity and Comcast is really appreciated and beneficial for our team at JR Motorsports,” Gragson said, adding the incentive money will be split amongst him and his crew. “… It’s a team sport and I’m just very thankful to be a part of this 9 team and very fortunate. It’s not me winning the $100,000 two weeks in a row, it’s the 9 team and those guys. It takes a whole group.”

As for the other eligible Dash 4 Cash drivers at Talladega, Hemric was the best of the rest, leading 18 laps early in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota and settling for 12th at the end. Martinsville winner Berry wound up 31st — last on the lead lap — after a solo spin with a flat tire hampered his efforts in the JRM No. 8 Chevy. Jones fared the worst, his Gibbs No. 19 Supra sustaining heavy damage in a multi-car stack-up on Lap 75 and relegating him to 37th overall.

MORE: Dash 4 Cash 2021 overview

Gragson’s result means he’ll face off with Saturday’s top-finishing Xfinity regulars — Burton, Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger — in the next Dash 4 Cash round, scheduled May 8 at Darlington Raceway (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM). With the extra money on the line again, Gragson said he doesn’t expect to temper his aggressive approach and prioritize the Dash 4 Cash finish over a race win. He just might have to be more protective of the display check if he goes 3-for-3.

“I don’t really see a reason to change,” Gragson said. “I sleep like a baby at night, and our race team sleeps like a baby at night, just because we’re content with who we are. I don’t know, we’re just confident and when we get to the race track, we know we have an opportunity to win, and outside noise doesn’t really bother us.”