Bass Pro Shops/Winchester Racing: Noah Gragson Nashville Advance

Notes of Interest

● Prior to the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway in 2021, 10 years had passed since NASCAR last competed at the 1.333-mile, concrete oval. It was a NASCAR Xfinity Series race on July 23, 2011 and it was won by Carl Edwards. The NASCAR Cup Series had never competed at the track until 2021, which means the majority of drivers in this year’s Ally 400 all have the same relative experience on the track. For Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 10 Bass Pro Shops/Winchester Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Stewart-Haas Racing, he has a total of three Nashville starts – one in Cup and two in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

● Gragson’s lone NASCAR Cup Series start at Nashville came in last year’s Ally 400. He started 30th and finished 26th for Legacy Motor Club, completing all but one of the race’s 300 laps.

● Gragson’s two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Nashville came in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Eighth was his best result, and it came in his first drive of any kind around Nashville. Gragson finished 13th in his return to the track in 2022.

● To gain additional experience at Nashville, Gragson will pull double duty during this year’s Ally 400 race weekend. He will compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday before piloting his signature No. 10 Bass Pro Shops/Winchester Ford Mustang on Sunday. Gragson will drive the No. 30 Ford Mustang for Rette-Jones Racing in the Tennessee Lottery 250. It will be his second Xfinity Series start of the year as Gragson wheeled a Rette-Jones Racing-prepared Mustang to a 10th-place finish May 25 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson, Driver of the No. 10 Bass Pro Shops/Winchester Ford Mustang Dark Horse

Nashville is concrete, but does it race like its fellow concrete tracks – Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway?

“The shape and the size of it and the banking in the corners are all a little different. The banking’s different, mainly because of the way the rubber gets laid down. It’s kind of half concrete, half mile-and-a-half-type track, so it’s definitely a weird-configured track.”

Would you call Nashville an intermediate-style track, where it shares similarities with other 1.5-mile, D-shaped ovals, or is it kind of its own animal since it’s a little smaller (1.333 miles)?

“I’d say it’s probably similar to Gateway, and even Texas a little bit. It doesn’t have as much banking and you’re not carrying as much speed as a mile-and-a-half. It’s flatter than most mile-and-a-halves, kind of like (turns) one and two at Texas. It’s shaped like a mile-and-a-half, but the way the rubber gets laid down and the way the groove moves around, I still haven’t really figured that place out. It’s really tough.”

Your experience at Nashville consists of two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts and one NASCAR Cup Series start. What’s the learning curve been like for you at Nashville?

“It’s been a lot more fun in the Cup Series car, I know that. It’s pretty wide and you can kind of go wherever. We weren’t very good there in Xfinity, so I’m running double duty this weekend, Xfinity and Cup, just so I can try and get more laps and figure that place out.”

We’ve talked about how differently the Xfinity car drives from the Cup car, but in regard to Nashville, is it really just about getting more seat time?

“It’s probably like swinging a bat, which is usually the same, but the pitches are a little bit different. You’re on the same track, so you can see how the track evolves and how the rubber gets laid down, but the cars drive quite a bit differently. There are some differences, but seat time is the most important thing.”

How has your intermediate track performance been this year?

“Our cars just seem like they drive a little better at intermediate tracks and are a little more competitive. We show up pretty good. At the short tracks, we kind of struggle for whatever reason that may be. It seems like we’ve been more competitive on the mile-and-a-halves.”

When you unload strong and you’re not playing from behind in that finite window of practice, how helpful is it to know you’re where you need to be so you can just fine-tune?

“It just makes your weekend a little bit smoother. When you’re not close, you’re scratching your head and probably overthinking.”

Nashville is the home of country music. What artists do you listen to and follow?

“I like Jon Pardi quite a bit. He’s pretty good. I’ve seen Cole Swindell at a few concerts. I’m buddies with him. He puts on a good show and it’s always good to go see him.”