Gragson Returns to Martinsville to Fight for a Win
Noah Gragson has been looking forward to returning to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway since April 1 of this year, the first time he raced there in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). It was that day when the rookie scored his first top-five finish in his Switch Tundra and after such a competitive race, he was ready to come back and battle for a win.
In the spring race, Gragson started ninth after only having one hour of practice due to rain on Friday. He spent much of the first stage finding a rhythm to get around the flat, paperclip-shaped track. He was up to fifth in the second stage until he was spun from behind by another competitor, but battled his way back up to the front at a track where it is notoriously hard to pass. He was eighth to begin the final stage and finished the race fourth. After that race, he was counting down the days until he could race at Martinsville again.
This will be the first time Gragson returns to a track where he has previous experience in his Switch Tundra. Every track up to this point has been a new experience for the 19-year-old rookie, but this weekend he has a much better idea of what to expect and how to improve. He also has a veteran crew chief in his corner, Marcus Richmond, who already has two wins under his belt at Martinsville. His first victory came with Dennis Setzer in 2008, followed by a trip to Victory Lane with Kevin Harvick in 2012.
With only four races remaining in the 2017 NCWTS season, Gragson still has his sights set on his first win. He came close with a second-place finish on the road course of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont., but perhaps his second time around at Martinsville on Saturday will be his race. Winning at Martinsville not only takes a fast truck, but the driver must have a good balance of patience and aggression to protect the track position he has, and gain more. Gragson will have 200 laps around "the paperclip" to see what he can do with his Switch Tundra to end up in Victory Lane.
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