Victory Lane is No Mirage for Gragson at Phoenix

Last year Noah Gragson made his very first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. With the huge learning curve he faced that day, Victory Lane seemed like a mirage off in the distance, but this year is a different story. With one win in the books already, the 19-year-old rookie sees winning at Phoenix as his goal.
Gragson has actually made two starts at the one-mile oval. In 2015, he competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Phoenix. He completed all 101 laps, but did not get the finish he wanted having to settle for 14th place. Last year was another new experience making his first start in a Toyota Tundra. To help him prepare for running the full season in 2017, Gragson went to Phoenix and Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway to compete and absorb as much information as he could. He did what he needed to do by once again completing all of the laps and gaining experience from his 16th -place finish. Victory Lane was the last thing on his mind that day.
Now the Las Vegas native returns to Phoenix for the third time with new goals and a new outlook. Coming off his win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last month, Gragson has more confidence, skill and knowledge than before. He also has a veteran crew chief who knows how to win at Phoenix. Marcus Richmond guided Timothy Peters to the checkered flag in 2015 and has three top-five and six top-10 finishes in 11 starts there.
Now it is up to Gragson to put all the pieces together by using what he learned in his previous two starts at Phoenix, along with the experience he has gained at similar tracks this season to fight for the win. Having won the pole at both Iowa Speedway in Newton and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon earlier this year, Gragson clearly has the speed it takes to succeed on smaller tracks. If he can start up front and remain there for 150 laps Friday night, his mirage will come into focus as he drives his Switch Tundra into Victory Lane.