This week fans do not have to travel to Rome to watch the gladiators battle in the Coliseum. They only have to get to Tennessee to see "The Last Great Colosseum," Bristol Motor Speedway, where these gladiators will trade horses for horsepower. Rookie Noah Gragson will be making his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start at Bristol under the lights on Wednesday night in the UNOH 200 and his armor will his No. 18 Switch Tundra.
Although it will be his first Truck Series start at the famed half-mile oval, he has raced there twice in other series. Most recently he competed in the CARS Super Late Model Tour at Bristol in May driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). Unfortunately, he was taken out of contention in an accident on lap 10. He also made one start there in 2016's NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race when he finished 12th.
Gragson will not enter the arena alone for this event. With the addition of a fourth KBM Tundra for this race, he will have some knowledgeable teammates to lean on for information. Owner-driver Kyle Busch has won twice at Bristol in the Truck Series (2010 and 2013), Christopher Bell led 101 laps in last year's NCWTS race and Harrison Burton captured a win (and a sword) earlier this year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race leading 68 of 70 laps.
With three races remaining in the NCWTS regular season, Gragson is still fighting for his place in the NASCAR playoffs. With five drivers locked in on wins, only three spots remain and he is currently 44 points out of making it into the elite eight. A win at Bristol is the ultimate goal for Wednesday night, and Gragson is up for the challenge. He knows it will not be easy, but he has never backed down from a challenge (or a dare).
Gragson will have 200 laps to prove he is a worthy opponent and intends to leave "The Last Great Colosseum" as the winning gladiator with a sword, trophy and a spot in the playoffs.