Gragson's Season Heats Up at Gateway

As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) heads to the Midwest, the temperature and the competition are both increasing. The forecast calls for highs in the 90s and the intensity on the track will be even hotter. Rookie Noah Gragson is coming off three consecutive top-10 finishes and won his first career pole last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. After a two-day test at Gateway Motorsports Park last month, he feels confident heading back to the 1.25-mile oval in hopes of parking his Switch Tundra in Victory Lane.
Gragson had a big week leading up to last week's race at Texas. He posted a video on Twitter of him eating a large portion of wasabi if he received 500 retweets. He received over 1,100, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. The video was replayed on "Race Hub," "NASCAR America," ESPN's "SportsCenter" and even "Mike and Mike." Gragson followed that up with his high school graduation walk at Texas Motor Speedway, where he decided to forego the ceremonial kiss on the cheek from the track's "Great American Sweethearts," and went for the lips instead. The video has over 8,000 views on his Facebook page. He did some racing there as well, winning his first career NCWTS pole, leading 13 laps (his first laps led in NCWTS competition) and rallied from two laps down to finish seventh.
This weekend at Gateway, the 18-year-old would like to improve on last weekend by not only starting first, but finishing first as well. Gragson, along with his Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) rookie teammates Todd Gilliland, Harrison Burton and Myatt Snider, spent two days testing at Gateway in May. It was time well spent since he had never been there and used the opportunity to get the feel of the track and build speed throughout the test. His other KBM teammate, Christopher Bell, is also a valuable resource as the defending winner of last year's Drivin' for Linemen 200. KBM teams have won twice at Gateway, last year with Bell and in 2014 with Darrell Wallace Jr.
The heat will be on Saturday at Gateway, but Gragson is prepared for the challenge. After two days of testing, watching hours of past races, conversations with his teammates and crew chief (Marcus Richmond) and a fast Switch Tundra, it's time for Gragson to turn up the temperature on the competition.


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Steven B. Wilson

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