Noah Gragson Is No Stranger To Iowa Speedway

Noah Gragson

Being a rookie in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) means everything is new. Getting to know your teammates, learning the feel of the trucks and visiting several new tracks for the first time. It can be quite a challenge, so finding something familiar is always a bonus. This weekend Noah Gragson heads to Iowa Speedway for the M&M’s 200 where he has the most experience of any track on the NCWTS schedule.

In the past two years, the 18-year-old has three prior starts at Iowa in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. All three events were combination races between the East and West divisions, bringing the best of the K&N Series together at one track in the middle of the country. In 2015, Gragson finished seventh overall (third in the West division) in May, and then fifth overall (second in the West division) in July. In 2016, he was 13th overall (sixth in the West division).

Gragson also another has a former Iowa winner to lean on this weekend, his spotter Brandon McReynolds. The son of former crew chief turned television analyst, Larry McReynolds, Brandon swept both K&N Pro Series races at Iowa in 2015. His experience and knowledge of the track will benefit Gragson as McReynolds helps him navigate his way around the 0.875-mile oval.

In addition to his K&N experience, Gragson was able to test his No. 18 Switch Tundra at Iowa in April. Although rain washed out most of the second day of testing, he was able to log a lot of laps and get some long runs under his belt during the first day. The test gave him a chance to feel out any changes in the track since last year, and learn how the trucks handle versus a K&N car.

The Switch team has scored top-10 finishes in their last four races and would like to improve upon that streak with a string of top-five finishes, and a few wins. Gragson has not finished outside of the top nine since a broken clutch ended his night early at Kansas Speedway in early May. He had a great run at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago when he captured his first pole and led 13 laps, the first of his NCWTS career.

This weekend as Gragson returns to Iowa Speedway, a place familiar to him, he would like to experience something new – his first trip to Victory Lane in the NCWTS. KBM teams are very familiar with Iowa’s Victory Lane having won the last three consecutive races there (William Byron 2016 and Erik Jones 2015, 2014). Now Gragson wants his turn.

Noah Gragson, Driver of the No. 18 NCWTS Switch Tundra:

Do you have more confidence going into Iowa since you have three previous starts and tested the truck there?

“I’m really looking forward to Iowa and think it’s going to be a good race for us. I have experience there in a K&N car, which is a little bit different, but we tested there in April so I kind of know the characteristics of the track for the most part. It changes throughout the winter since it’s so cold in Iowa and then heats up during the summer, so you get bumps and it’s a little bit different year to year. It will be different racing in the truck, but I have a lot of confidence going into this race and am really focused on winning. I think we have a good shot at it.”

Your spotter, Brandon McReynolds, swept both K&N races at Iowa in 2015. How helpful will it be to have him coaching you from the spotter’s stand?

“It helps being on the same page with your spotter. I live with Brandon, so we sit down and watch film together during the week of the upcoming races. He’s won there and had success, so obviously he knows how to get around that place and maybe he knows some stuff that I don’t know, so I’m always open to listening to him. His knowledge will be very valuable to me and I’ll use it to my advantage.”

Gateway was your fourth-consecutive top-10 finish. What do you need to do to consistently be in the top five?

“I feel like we are there. We have all the puzzle pieces. I didn’t feel like we were great at Gateway, but we were able to finish ninth. The other races at Dover and Texas I felt like we were really fast. We were one of the fastest trucks, so now we just need a little luck to help us out and all the puzzle pieces to fit together. We’ve got to stay focused and eventually it will come.”

Marcus Richmond, Crew Chief of the No. 18 NCWTS Switch Tundra:

What things did you work on during your test at Iowa in April?

“We unloaded really well. KBM has run really well there the last few years, so we had a really good baseline set-up to start with. We let Noah get a lot of laps and make some long runs. Iowa has a lot of different grooves, so he got to run some different grooves to see what he liked best. He got up to speed pretty quickly since he’s already made three starts at Iowa in a K&N car, so he was familiar with the track.”

After four consecutive top-10 finishes, what will it take for Noah to consistently finish in the top five?

“As a team we need to be mistake free. I think once we minimize some of the mistakes we’ve made, the top fives will be there. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just a learning curve and having a month of consecutive races has helped. It’s tough to find consistency with long breaks between races, so I think as a team we’ll hit our stride as the summer continues.”

Noah Gragson’s No. 18 Switch Tundra:

KBM-036: The No. 18 Switch team will race KBM-036, for Friday’s M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway. This is the same Tundra Gragson raced at Dover earlier this month where he finished ninth.

 

KBM-36 Performance Profile

Starts

Wins

Average Start

Average Finish

Laps Led

 3

0

9.7

11.0

27

 

Notes of Interest:

Noah Gragson 2017:

  • Earned his first top-five finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series by finishing fourth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April

  • Won first career NCWTS pole at Texas Motor Speedway on 6/9

  • Has posted one top-five and five-top 10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 13.2 across eight NCWTS starts this season

  • Is currently 10th in the NCWTS standings, 25 points out of the eighth and the final playoff spot

  • Competed in the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway

Noah Gragson 2016:

  • Made first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in November where he completed all the laps to finish 16th. Finished 15th the following week at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway

  • Returned to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West where he earned two wins, eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 14 starts to finish third in the driver point standings

  • Competed in 13 of 14 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races claiming two wins, four top-five and six top-10 finishes

Noah Gragson 2015

  • Finished second in the final NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver point standings as a rookie after posting two wins, one pole, seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 13 starts

  • Claimed his first victory at Tucson (Ariz.) Speedway battling with his teammate for the win

  • Recorded first career pole and led 176 laps to win at Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho

Noah Gragson 2014

  • Started racing Bandoleros at The Bullring at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway

  • Moved up to compete in Late Models

  • Competed in the INEX Legends car racing series, winning the 2014 Young Lion Road Course championship

 

Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 Tundra:

  • The No. 18 team is currently 12th in owner points and 10th in driver points after collecting their fifth top-10 finish

  • Five members of this year’s No. 18 Tundra team were a part of last year’s No. 4 Tundra team which collected one win, 197 laps led, nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes across 23 starts and made the inaugural Championship Four in the Chase

KBM NCWTS Program

  • Holds the NCWTS records for most career wins (60), most wins in a single season (14 in 2014) and mostOwner’s championships (five)

  • Erik Jones earned the organization its first-ever NCWTS Driver’s championship in 2015

  • Has collected 60 wins, 32 poles, 140 top-five and 225 top-10 finishes across 373 starts since originating in 2010

  • Nine different drivers have won a race for KBM, led by owner-driver Kyle Busch with 32. Erik Jones and William Byron each collected seven victories, Darrell Wallace Jr., has five wins, Christopher Bell owns four, Denny Hamlin has produced two victories while Daniel Suarez, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott each collected one triumph

  • With Bell’s victory at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway KBM has at least one win at all 21 tracks on the 2017 NCWTS schedule

KBM NCWTS @ Iowa Speedway

  • KBM drivers have collected three wins, two poles, 410 laps led, six top-five and 13 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.1 across 18 starts at Iowa

  • In last year’s Truck Series event at Iowa, William Byron led a race-high 107 laps en route to the victory. KBM teams have won the last three consecutive NCWTS races at Iowa (Byron 2016 and Erik Jones 2014, 2015)

Richmond’s Record:

Entering the 2017 season, Marcus Richmond had collected nine wins, 11 poles, 52 top-five and 107 top-10 finishes across 222 races in his 11 seasons as a crew chief in the Truck Series. The veteran crew chief has been to victory lane with five different drivers (Ty Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter and Dennis Setzer) and has recorded at least one win every year since 2012. The North Carolina native’s drivers have finished inside the top five in the Truck Series championship standings four times in the last five seasons, including a runner-up finish in the standings with Ty Dillon in 2012. His most recent stop was at JR Motorsports last season, where he guided Cole Custer to two poles, four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes over the last 16 races of 2016. Richmond joined KBM in December 2016 to coach rookie Noah Gragson in 2017.

Richmond has three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts as a NCWTS crew chief at Iowa. His best finish was second place with Ty Dillon in 2012 and Cole Custer in 2016.

Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra 2017 NCWTS Box Score:

Date

Site

Driver

Start

Finish

Laps

Laps Led

Status

Driver Pts./Pos.

2/24

Daytona

Gragson

12

26

1/100

0

Accident

11/22nd

3/4

Atlanta

Gragson

10

14

130/130

0

Running

34/17th

4/1

Martinsville

Gragson

9

4

250/250

0

Running

70/11th

5/12

Kansas

Gragson

4

28

68/167

0

Clutch

79/13th

5/19

Charlotte

Gragson

15

9

134/134

0

Running

111/13th

6/2

Dover

Gragson

8

9

199/200

0

Running

145/10th

6/9

Texas

Gragson

1

7

167/167

13

Running

181/10th

6/17

Gateway

Gragson

7

9

160/160

0

Running

209/10th

 TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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