Thursday, Dec 02

Growing up in Las Vegas, Noah Gragson did not necessarily grow up around the racing world. At a very young age, he was involved with stick and ball sports like basketball and football, as well as extreme sports, like mountain biking.

 

To Gragson, racing was just an east coast of the United States deal. However, everything shifted at the age of 10 and 11.

 

Gragson was friends with Riley Herbst. Herbst invited Gragson to one of his races in an off road champion truck series event outside of Las Vegas. According to Gragson, the racing bug was caught and that is what he wanted to do. However, when that bug hit, it was during the economic recession.

 

The bug did not die in Gragson’s heart. His dad would bring him to Pole Position Raceway, a go-kart circuit in the Las Vegas area. The family would go as many weekends to Pole Position for one and a half to two years when an opportunity arose to race in the Bandelero’s at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s “Bullring”.

 

During his time at the Bullring, Gragson found racing success. He moved up to the Legend’s division in 2014. While in that division, Gragson won the Young Lion Road Course championship as well as beginning to drive in the Super Late Model Division.

 

He also became a member of the NASCAR Next program in 2012. This program selects drivers that have a proven record of success and possess the necessary talent and skills to continue going up the NASCAR ladder. This program helps drivers develop the necessary professional skills and grow their marketability. Drivers are selected to join the program from input among veteran drivers and industry executives. NASCAR believes that these drivers will be the next face in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

 

In 2015, Gragson moved to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. In just his third start, Gragson scored the victory at Tucson Speedway in Arizona. During that season, Gragson won one more race, scored one pole, seven top-five finishes, and 11 top-10 finishes while finishing second in the points standings and winning Rookie of the Year.

 

In 2016, Gragson continued to race in the K&N Pro Series West, but also added the K&N Pro Series East to his resume. During the season, Gragson collected two wins in East and West. In the West, he scored eight top-fives, 12 top-10’s, and led 73 laps. In the East, he scored four top-five’s, six top-10’s, and led 16 laps.

 

Because of his impressive steps, Gragson signed to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM).

 

Signing with KBM was a dream come true for Gragson. About four to five years ago, Gragson swung by the KBM shop. When he walked into the shop for the very first time, he was amazed at the trophies that showcase the success of Busch and KBM. While there, Gragson dreamed of being able to step into the shop as a driver for Kyle and Samantha.

 

Driving for Kyle may seem daunting to many young drivers, but for Gragson it’s a special opportunity since both drivers were born and raised in the Las Vegas area. Gragson believes the opportunity to be able to talk to a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion is an advantage to him because not every young guy has the opportunity to do so. Gragson can call up Busch and ask him what the nuisances of a specific track are and how to approach the weekend. Gragson not only leans on Busch for advice, but Christopher Bell, his teammate. Gragson is using this opportunity to be like a sponge and soak up every bit of information he can.

 

While driving full-time in the trucks, Gragson also has been running select ARCA Racing Series events with Venturini Motorsports. Gragson has already ran at Daytona International Speedway in ARCA. He will also race this weekend at Talladega, as well as, the second Pocono and Chicagoland. He chose to go with Venturini Motorsports because he saw how fast their Toyota’s were. Gragson also has saw how successful the organization was in winning at every track on the ARCA schedule. In 2015, Gragson, who was not racing for them at the time, believed that Venturini was the team to beat.

 

The first two races of the truck season were not what Gragson was hoping for. He crashed at Daytona in the opening laps to finish in the 26th position, while at Atlanta, he finished 14th after making a mistake on the opening lap. Because he has not had the experience on mile-and-halves, Gragson is learning everything he an about the trucks. “The aero is different than what I am used to in K&N,” said Gragson. “You can follow a guy on the short tracks and be right in his footsteps and once he messes up, you pounce on him. On the 1.5-miles, you really have to go where he is not. When you are stuck to him in the airwaves, you have no downforce making it hard.”

 

Despite the lack of experience, Gragson is proud that Marcus Richmond, his crew chief, and team are rallying behind him to build up his confidence.

 

As a young driver in the trucks, Gragson deals with the month long break from Atlanta to Martinsville to Kansas. Gragson only has five races under his belt, but would love the chance to get to learn more about the trucks by racing in them. Despite the break, Gragson relies on Busch, Richmond, and his teammates to help learn the nuances with the lack of experience.

 

Like his career, the sports scene in and around the Las Vegas area is booming. While Las Vegas Motor Speedway is getting a second date, the area is also getting a National Football League and National Hockey League team. Gragson believes that is huge for Vegas for the “businesses, the hotels, just the whole atmosphere in Vegas”.  When he was racing at the “Bullring”, he always dreamt of racing on the “big track” and is excited to have that opportunity to live out his dreams.

 

Gragson believes that the competition enhancements across all three series is a success.

 

“I feel like it creates a bit more drama. In the past, I felt the races get strung out and single file, not enough racing. But now, they take guys group them up, takes it back to your traditional K&N/Short track racing. You get a halfway break etc. I feel like it’s a win-win for everyone. It creates drama for the fans, fans are happy. the TV providers happy because they get commercials in. For us, we get to take a sip of water and relax our fingers.”

 

Although the season is young in the Camping World Truck Series, Gragson has set goals in what he wants to accomplish. His main goal is to learn as much as he can because many of the tracks on the schedule or ones he has not seen before. “Hopefully next year I can come back to these tracks, but our main goal is to win races and a championship. to be realistic, i want to learn. with learning, the races will come, the finishes will come. You just gotta keep digging and striving to get better and better,” said Gragson. Although he has not seen many of the tracks, he is most looking forward to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in September because road courses are where he found the most success in the K&N Series.

 

Social media is an important part of Gragson’s life. Gragson uses Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat as ways to interact with the fans. Gragson loves to interact with fans on social media. He believes that fans come to the racetrack to see their favorite driver and get an autograph while social media provides fans the opportunity to see what drivers go through on a day-to-day basis outside of the racetrack atmosphere.

 

You can follow Gragson on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter on @NoahGragson.

HAMPTON, Ga.—  Christopher Bell sweeps all three stages to win the Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This is Kyle Busch Motorsports first win at Atlanta. This is Bell’s third career win.

“I was just trying to do everything I could to make sure I got a good restart and I didnt get momentum broke. These truck races are really tough to get restarts going because it is so aero-dependent. You get all sorts of momentum or get all sorts of  momentum taken away,” said Bell post-race.

Bell started from the pole position and chose the inside lane, which proved to be the stronger lane. The outside lane would not get momentum and that proved to be a winner for Bell. The caution flew on the first lap for a spin that included Brett Moffitt and Noah Gragson. On the restart, Bell continued to chose the bottom lane. As the field battled for position behind Bell, he was able to pull away. The caution flew for possible oil on the track from Chase Elliott. During that restart, Bell was able to pull away from the outside lane with help from Matt Crafton. Crafton came close to putting pressure on Bell, but was unable to do so giving Bell the stage victory. Kyle Busch was second, Matt Crafton was third, Ben Rhodes was fourth, and Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five. As the leaders hit pit road, Bell won the race off pit road as Busch had to make a chassis adjustment to the left and right side of the car.

When the second stage began, Bell was able to get a great restart and set sail on the field. The caution flew on lap 51 for oil on the track from Busch. Bell was able to once again set sail on the restart to go on to dominate the stage. Busch was second, Rhodes was third, Timothy was fourth, and Crafton rounded out the top-five at the conclusion of the stage.

To start the third stage, Bell was unable to get a good restart because he spun his tires giving Busch the lead. Rhodes was trying to battle Busch for the lead, but the caution flew for a spin by Tommy Joe Martins. On the restart, Busch was able to set sail with the lead as the outside lane gets stacked up. The caution then flew for a spin by Jordan Anderson on lap 105. All the leaders pit. However, Grant Enfinger stayed out on old tires while Austin Dillon took two tires. That strategy sent both drivers towards the back of the field since everyone behind them had four fresh tires. Crafton was able to grab the lead, but Bell was coming quickly to pass Crafton. With six laps to go, Cindric spun bringing out the caution setting out for a green-white-checkered finish. Bell and Crafton were in a dead heat on the restart, but Bell was able to prevail for the victory.

Crafton finished second, Johnny Sauter finished third, Rhodes finished fourth, and Elliott was able to round out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a month off before heading to Martinsville Speedway on April 1st for the Alpha Energy Solutions 250. Coverage will be on FOX and Motor Racing Network beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST.

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.”

After a couple late race cautions, Kyle Busch holds off Daniel Hemric and Cameron Hayley in overtime to win the American Ethanol E15 225 at Chicagoland Speedway. This is Busch’s 46th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win; his fifth at Chicago.

 

“This has been a really good place for us at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) over the years. We’ve been really fast here. It was nice to be able to come out here and keep that speed going with this SiriusXM Tundra. I really appreciate Erik Jones being here yesterday, working it in for me a bit, all the work the guys at the shop do a great job. I can’t say enough about Toyota, TRD and JGR Engines – this engine ran really well today. Thank Camping World and of course the fans, too. It seems as though it was perfect timing as it just started spitting a little bit here. All in all good day but really important to see the 9 (William Byron) and 4 (Christopher Bell) make the Chase this year for KBM. Two opportunities there to go after a championship. Also the 13 (Cameron Hayley) right there at the end, that’s a brand new KBM truck out of our stables, so that thing was fast – it was hard to hold him off at the end, he was really quick. Good job to those guys and finding speed in our stuff,”  said Kyle Busch in a post-race victory lane interview.

 

Hemric, who finished second to Busch, was able to lock himself into the chase on points, stated post race, “You’re trying to be smart knowing the situation you’re in, but Kyle and I were able to work good together. I just couldn’t get the air enough like I needed to get the run on him, but when I got there, I stalled out. We just have to work on that aero area on our trucks, and figure out what we need to do on that next step.”

 

Hayley, who needed a win to get into the chase, was unable to point his way into the chase finished third. “We did not have a winning truck at the beginning of that race. They gave me a great Tundra there at the end. That’s why he (Busch) is a Cup driver, I’m the Truck driver. I have a lot to learn from that guy. We’re not in the chase, but you couldn’t say we didn’t try.”

 

With a full moon on hand the American Ethanol E15 225 began shortly after 8:45PM EST. On the initial start, John Wes Townley, who qualified second, did not get up to speed and quickly fell towards the back of the field. After only four laps of competition, William Byron shot into the wall bringing out the first caution. The high lane was the preferred lane on restarts and during the race. Matt Tifft made an unscheduled pit stop under green for a loose left rear wheel. The caution clock expired on lap 46 as Suarez was leading over Ky. Busch and Townley. Cameron Hayley and Timothy Peters endured penalties on the first round of pit stops. Hayley for removing equipment from the box, and Peters for an uncontrolled tire. After hitting the wall, Peters made a couple unscheduled pit stops to try to fix the issues. At the halfway point, Busch led Sauter, Reddick, Custer, and Townley.

 

In the second half of the race, Tyler Reddick was on the charge to the front in order to get a win to put him in the chase in the beginning. Just before the caution clock expired for the second time of the night, the caution flag flew for Byron who hit the wall for the second time after repairing damage.  Cole Custer, who needed a win to get in, was caught on pit road for being too fast on pit exit. On restarts, the high line continued to get the better start compared to the inside line. When the caution flew out for a spin by Josh Berry, teams were debating on making two and four tire stops for the remaining 40 laps of the race. The red flag was displayed after a wreck involving Ben Kennedy, Matt Crafton, Sauter, and Ben Rhodes to repair the SAFER barrier. The red flag was lifted after 14 minutes. Crafton went to the garage in an effort to save the truck from tonight for a race later on in the chase. Grant Enfinger brought out the caution shortly after the restart after contact with Gallagher and Custer. Late race spins by Ben Rhodes and Tommy Joe Martins shortened the chance for other drivers to get the much needed win to get into the chase. However, Busch prevailed to win over Hemric, Hayley, Christopher Bell, and Sauter, who rounded out the top-five.

 

The Chase Grid is officially set for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Byron holds the top seed going into New Hampshire with his five wins in the regular season. Crafton and John Hunter Nemechek will be seeded after Byron for scoring two wins. Sauter, Bell, and Kennedy are seeded fourth, fifth, and sixth. Hemric and Peters will fill the final two positions in the chase due to their points position. Hayley and Custer barely missed the chance to compete in the Chase, but are tied for the ninth position going into New Hampshire.

 

The American Ethanol E15 225 saw 10 lead changes among five different drivers. Busch led the most laps at 95 with Suarez leading 43, Gallagher leading eight, Kennedy leading four, and Tommy Joe Martins leading one lap. The caution flew 10 times for a total of 41 laps. The average speed of the race was 108.648 mph. The time of the race was 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 5 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.139 seconds.

 

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway to kick off the Round of Eight for the UNOH 175. The race will be on September 24th at 1:00PM EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.

Kyle Busch was upset after Thursday evenings Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway. 

 

Busch and Spencer Gallagher were racing each other, when Busch was sent into the wall, ending his night. 

 

“It was self-inflicted, I guess. Got back in traffic and I don’t know. Going down the back stretch I thought I had enough room on the inside, but I know who I crashed with. That doesn’t surprise me, now I know how John Wes Townley feels. It’s just a shame. Brand new truck and really good piece – destroyed,” said Kyle Busch after the wreck, bringing out the fourth caution of the evening. 

 

Busch was running 13th at the time of incident.  Gallagher did apologize post-race for the accident.

 

“I know how John Wes Townley feels,” stated Kyle Busch.

 

The jab at Gallagher comes after the last NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park when he and John Wes Townley wrecked and fought. 

 

Gallagher and Townley were both fined for the incident.

 

This is Kyle Busch’s first DNF since Texas in 2013. 

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