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.