Noah Gragson will kick off his rookie season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Friday night under the lights at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the NextEra Energy Resources 250. This will be Gragson's first season at Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) and he hopes to follow in the footsteps of many other exceptional rookies like Erik Jones and William Byron who have added to KBM's trophy case.
To prepare for this season, Gragson made two NCWTS starts at the end of 2016 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway and Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, where he finished 16th and 15th respectively. By completing all the laps, he was able to get a head start on learning the unique characteristics of the truck's aerodynamics on bigger tracks.
Veteran crew chief Marcus Richmond was added to the No. 18 Switch team's roster in late 2016 to mentor and coach the young driver from atop the pit box. The team tested for one day at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway in January to give Gragson more experience on an intermediate track and help the crew hone their communication skills with a new driver and crew chief. Five members of this year's No. 18 Switch 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 last season and made the inaugural Championship Four in the Chase with Christopher Bell.
Gragson made his Daytona debut last weekend in the ARCA Racing Series. Driving for Venturini Motorsports, Gragson did not have the easiest weekend, but made the best of it by completing the race and gaining valuable experience. After being fastest in practice earlier in the week, Gragson failed to make a qualifying lap due to a mechanical issue which forced him to start in the back. Once the race was underway, he experienced a part failure which sent him to the pits for seven laps for repairs. He finished the race in 26th place and although it was not the finish he wanted, it was an opportunity to learn.
When the NCWTS hits the track, Gragson will also be sporting the colors of a new sponsor. Switch, headquartered in Las Vegas, designs, builds and operates world-renowned data centers where clients from all over the world rely on its mission-critical facilities and technology ecosystems to power their businesses. Gragson is excited to have them on board with him and hopes to take them to Victory Lane Friday.