Notes of Interest

● Six weeks have passed since the last time the NASCAR Cup Series raced on a 1.5-mile oval. It was March 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Noah Gragson drove his No. 10 Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Stewart-Haas Racing to a season-best sixth-place finish. With another 1.5-mile oval next up on the Cup Series docket with the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Gragson is looking forward to racing in the Lone Star State and scoring another strong result.

● Gragson has only one NASCAR Cup Series start at Texas. It came in September 2022 when the Las Vegas native drove to a 21st-place finish for Kaulig Racing. It was just Gragson’s 13th career Cup Series start. Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 will mark Gragson’s 48th career Cup Series start. He’s slated to make his milestone 50th career Cup Series start April 28 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway.

● While Gragson’s NASCAR Cup Series experience at Texas is limited, his overall experience at the D-shaped oval is not. He has eight career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts there and four career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts.

● In those eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Texas, Gragson scored four top-fives, hitting his stride in his fourth start at the track. After finishing 13th, 30th and 30th in his first three starts, Gragson roared to a strong second-place finish in October 2020, rising from his ninth-place starting spot to lead three times for a race-high 43 laps before coming up .445 of a second short to winner Harrison Burton. Gragson went on to score three more top-10 finishes in his last four Xfinity Series starts at Texas, going out on top in his final start at the track in September 2022. Gragson started second and took the lead on lap one. He wound up leading three times for a race-high 85 laps, including the final 12, to take the victory by 1.238 seconds over runner-up Austin Hill. The lone finish outside of the top-10 during that four-race stretch came in May 2022 when Gragson won the pole and proceeded to lead twice for 32 laps before getting collected in a six-car accident on lap 124 of the 167-lap race that left him 36th.

● In his four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts at Texas, Gragson never finished outside the top-10. He debuted in strong fashion in June 2017 by winning the pole and leading twice for 13 laps before finishing seventh. It ended up being Gragson’s best Truck Series result at Texas as he tallied three consecutive 10th-place finishes in his last three Truck Series starts (November 2017, June 2018 and November 2018).

● For the second straight week, adorns Gragson’s No. 10 Ford Mustang. The partnership amplifies the recent relaunch of, home of crazy good deals that offer quality and style for less. is for the savvy shopper who loves the thrill of the hunt and it includes product categories customers know and love, like patio furniture, home furniture and area rugs, while reintroducing jewelry, watches and health-and-beauty products.

Noah Gragson, Driver of the No. 10 Ford Mustang Dark Horse

The risk versus reward factor is higher at Texas because the speeds are so much higher. Can you explain how fast things happen at Texas and how quickly you need to think and make moves on the track?

“Texas is challenging just because you’re pretty much wide open from the exit of turn two all the way through (turns) three and four, down the front straightaway until you get to turn one. There are two different corners at Texas, and that’s a big challenge on getting your car handling right. Turns three and four are more banked, and turns one and two are more flat and wide. It’s a tough, challenging racetrack, and it’s always pretty hot and slick there, too. It’s easy to get up out of the groove and spin out through one and two. You definitely have to be on your game from the get-go.”

Texas is the exact opposite of a short track, which is where the NASCAR Cup Series has raced the past two weekends. But would you like to see the kind of tire fall-off we’ve seen at the short tracks to where the race would have more comers and goers, or does that get a little bit dicey considering the speeds you’re running at Texas?

“Texas is super smooth just because it’s been repaved within the last 10 years, so it would be hard to make the tires wear out there. But it’s gripped up, it’s fine, you’re going fast around that place, and I like the challenge of that.”

What are the tricky parts of Texas and what do you have to do every time you make a lap?

“You can go to the bottom and run your right-sides in the resin, or you can run all four in the traction compound, but if you slip up, there’s only one groove in that traction compound. If you try to get a little bit higher on your arc into the corner, it could be a disaster and you can spin out and lose all grip. It’s like you hit ice. That’s a big challenge there.”

Texas is another track where you’ve enjoyed considerable success in NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In fact, you won in your last Xfinity Series start there and you never finished outside the top-10 in four career Truck starts at Texas. What has allowed you to have so much success at Texas?

“I don’t have a clue. I felt like it was always my worst track. The first time I went there, we got the pole, which was awesome, and I told myself in the Truck that I had to be wide open if I wanted a shot at the pole, and I held it wide open until I got past the checkered flag. I guess it’s just about being disciplined getting it to the line each lap. It’s a handful around that place.”

Texas’ victory lane is pretty over the top with flames, confetti, cowboy hats and six-shooters. Has it been one of your favorite places to celebrate a win?

“Yeah, it’s a fun victory lane to celebrate, by far. There are always a lot of people, they have cool trophies, cowboy hats, and they have flames shooting off the top of the backdrop. It’s a good time, but it’s always hot in Texas and it feels like it’s 200 degrees in a sauna in victory lane there just because they have the fire going the whole time. I remember when we won the Xfinity race and I’m like, ‘Please just tell them to shut off the flames because it’s so damn hot and I’m worn out.’”

What’s your favorite barbecue joint in Texas?

“I like going to Hard Eight BBQ. I could eat lunch and dinner there every day when I’m in town. I love that place. I get brisket, I get the bacon wrapped jalapeno, and I also do a jalapeno creamed corn, and that’s all I need. For me, it’s the only place that really has it all for me, and I’m not really a big barbecue guy. But for whatever reason, when we land in Texas, I’m going to Hard Eight in Dallas.”