DAYTONA BEACH, Fl.— The 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season started out terrible for Noah Gragson and his Kyle Busch Motorsports team.
Shortly after qualifying, Gragson and his team learned that team Jeff Merritt, a team mechanic, lost his wife Stephanie after injuries sustained in an automobile accident two weeks ago.
“One of my guys back home, Jeff, we had a hard loss a couple of minutes ago,” Gragson said. “His wife passed away. They got in a car wreck over the offseason. He worked really, really hard on this truck. We’re going to go out there and drive as hard as we can today for him, for Stephanie.
Gragson was hoping to win the race for Jeff and his family
However, Gragson was involved in an accident on the third lap, where he was spun by Chase Briscoe.
“I’m fine. NASCAR does a great job with the safer barriers and making these trucks safe. I’m fine. I took a few hard hits out there. Just a bummer. I didn’t want to end the race like this, but I had a good time for the lap I got. Felt like the 29 (Chase Briscoe) hit me in the wrong part of the bumper going through the tri-oval, it just got me loose and it got pointed into the outside wall. Just very thankful for the opportunity to come out here to Daytona, racing in front of the fans” said Grayson after the accident.
Grayson would be scored in the 26th position.
Despite racing with a heavy heart, Gragson is optimistic about next weekend in Atlanta.
“We’re going to go out to Atlanta next weekend and hopefully get the W.”