Noah Gragson Is Hoping To Be In A Positon To Win At Talladega

Noah Gragson

This weekend the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) competes in its second and final restrictor-plate race of the season at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. For Noah Gragson, it will feel like his first drafting race in the Truck Series since he was eliminated from contention on the second lap of the season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway when he was hit from behind by Chase Briscoe. The old saying “to finish first, first you must finish” is never truer than at a restrictor-plate race where drafting in packs often results in multi-vehicle accidents.

Drivers use different strategies throughout the race to try to avoid “the big one.” Gragson and his crew chief, Marcus Richmond, believe staying up front is the best way to accomplish that. Richmond knows a thing, or two, about winning at Talladega since he has two wins and three poles at the 2.66-mile track. He made it to Victory Lane in 2014 and 2015 with NCWTS veteran Timothy Peters. This time Richmond would like to get his third win, but with a rookie.

Gragson has one prior start at Talladega when he competed in the ARCA Racing Series event for Venturini Motorsports in May.  He started on the front row in second place and led one lap, but was scored in 30th place after getting caught up in an accident on lap 36 of 82. Although there are few similarities between an ARCA car and a truck, getting familiar with the track and the feel of the draft gave Gragson some practical experience before hitting the track for practice this Friday.

The 19-year-old has had a pretty good week so far after winning the prestigious Winchester 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway on Sunday. Gragson had never raced at the half-mile track before, but led 138 laps total, including the final seven, and took the checkered flag in his Switch Camry and celebrated by climbing the fence on the front stretch. It was his second start in a Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) late model this year.

The Las Vegas native will also pay tribute this weekend to those affected by the tragic shooting in his hometown on Oct.1. His Switch Tundra will carry the #VegasStrong hashtag on the television panel, while the DriversforVegas.com logo will be displayed on the rear quarterpanels. Gragson joined with other NASCAR drivers from Las Vegas to give fans a way to help the victims and families of the tragedy. Fans are encouraged to check out DriversForVegas.com to purchase one of the items available, or to simply make a donation.

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

Do you feel like you have some momentum coming off your win at Winchester last weekend?

“I’m definitely pumped up from winning the Winchester 400, but Talladega is a very different ballgame. I’m really excited to get back to Martinsville later this month because it’s a short track similar to Winchester. Talladega is a completely different style of racing, so it’s kind of back to reality this weekend.”

Were you able to learn much about Talladega from running the ARCA race in May?

“Maybe a little bit running the draft and side drafting some, but the trucks handle way differently than the ARCA cars at Talladega. The track is easy to run wide open by yourself, but it’s all about getting that experience running behind and around other drivers, pushing them and having them push you. Being so close is kind of nerve-wracking when you first get out there, but it’s all about getting comfortable and into a zone and clicking off laps until the end.”

What does it mean to you to carry the DriversForVegas.com decal on your Switch Tundra at Talladega?

“Although I moved to North Carolina to pursue my racing career, Las Vegas will always be my home. When I heard about this horrible tragedy, not only did I think about my family and friends who still live there, but all of the visitors who make our city one of the best in the world. I immediately wanted to do something to help, but it took a few days to even wrap my head around what happened. When Spencer (Gallagher) called me with this idea, I was all in to help do anything to try to heal our community.”

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

What can a crew chief do during a race at Talladega to help the driver since so much is out of his control?

“The biggest thing is to make sure he maintains good track position and stays in the top five most of the race to stay ahead of trouble. If you get yourself in a situation where you fall to the back, you definitely have more of a chance to get in a wreck, or something to happen outside of your control.”

Noah Gragson’s No. 18 Switch Tundra:

KBM-040: The No. 18 Switch team will race KBM-040, for Saturday’s Fred’s 250. Gragson has raced this truck in Daytona but his night ended early with an accident on the second lap when he was hit from behind. Christopher Bell finished sixth with this Tundra at Talladega in 2016.

 

KBM-40 Performance Profile

Starts

Wins

Average Start

Average Finish

Laps Led

 2

0

13.0

16.0

0

 

Notes of Interest:

Noah Gragson 2017:

  • Earned his best NCWTS finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont., when he finished second on 9/3

  • Earned his first top-five finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series by finishing fourth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April. He also finished fifth at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in July

  • Won first career NCWTS pole at Texas Motor Speedway on 6/9, second at Iowa Speedway on 6/23 and third at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on 9/23

  • Has posted three top-five and 11-top 10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.6 across 18 NCWTS starts this season

  • Won the prestigious Winchester 400 Champion Racing Association Super Series race at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway driving for KBM on 10/8

  • Competed in the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., earning one top-five and two top-10 finishes

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 13th in owner points and 11th in driver points after collecting three top-five and 11 top-10 finishes this season

  • 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 (64), most wins in a single season (14 in 2014) and most Owner’s championships (five)

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

  • Has collected 64 wins, 35 poles, 152 top-five and 245 top-10 finishes across 405 starts since originating in 2010

  • Nine different drivers have won a race for KBM, led by owner-driver Kyle Busch with 33. Christopher Bell, Erik Jones and William Byron have each collected seven victories, Darrell Wallace Jr., has five wins, Denny Hamlin has produced two victories while Daniel Suarez, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott each collected one trophy

  • 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 @ Talladega Superspeedway

  • KBM drivers have collected one win, 27 laps led, two top-five and 10 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 12.1 across 16 starts at the 2.66-mile oval

  • Owner-driver Kyle Busch collected KBM’s lone victory in the 2010 event after leading only eight laps

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 two wins, three poles, three top-five and four top-10 finishes in 10 starts as a NCWTS crew chief at Talladega. He claimed the victory in 2014 and 2015 with Timothy Peters.

 

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

6/23

Iowa

Gragson

1

6

200/200

16

Running

255/9th

7/6

Kentucky

Gragson

11

5

150/150

32

Running

299/9th

7/19

Eldora

Gragson

10

7

150/150

0

Running

329/9th

7/29

Pocono

Gragson

8

24

39/60

0

Accident

345/9th

8/12

Michigan

Gragson

5

7

100/100

0

Running

382/9th

8/16

Bristol

Gragson

4

15

202/203

0

Running

418/9th

9/3

Canadian Tire

Gragson

6

2

64/64

0

Running

458/9th

9/15

Chicago

Gragson

6

8

150/150

0

Running

489/11th

9/23

New Hampshire

Gragson

1

15

174/175

40

Running

519/11th

9/30

Las Vegas

Gragson

13

13

144/146

12

Running

548/11th

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

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