Noah Gragson is preparing for his biggest move in NASCAR

Every young race car driver dreams of eventually competing at the highest level of motorsports. For Noah Gragson, his dream comes true as he prepares for his rookie campaign for the NASCAR Cup Series with Legacy Motor Club.

Gragson initially signed a deal to compete in the No. 42 car for Petty GMS. Then, seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson bought an interest in the team in late 2022 to create a new brand. Combined with the pressure of racing on fellow seven-time champion and team ambassador Richard Petty, Gragson is now entering his season as the driver of two of the most successful racers of all time.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Gargson said at a party in New York City. “They are great mentors and leaders. There are so many great qualities in these two guys. They are obviously champions of the sport, but I think there’s more to the everyday things, learning how to become the best version of myself and the best driver I can be. I definitely have two great resources that I can draw on.” “.

Gragson, 24, is coming off his best season in the Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports. It was a rocky start to the season, however, in which he faced scrutiny throughout the sport after he intentionally smashed Hakim Karam at Road America while battling for 10th place.

“I was shocked, to be honest with you, when I saw Noah make that decision,” said team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. after the Gragson incident. “I was completely shocked and in a little bit of disbelief not only that he made that choice but that, you know, but this caused such an accident and involved a lot of other guys in it. That was hard to watch, really hard.”

But Gargson learned of the accident. He went on to win eight races throughout the year. At Phoenix Raceway, he had a fierce, clean battle for the championship with Ty Gibbs, coming up short. However, he came second to the respect he earned throughout the industry as he prepared for his first year in the sport’s top division.

Now, Gragson is ready for the endeavor ahead. Johnson, who runs the Cup schedule part-time, will act as a mentor. It’s a perfect fit for Gragson, who already took over Johnson’s old No. 48 at Hendrick Motorsports when Alex Bowman was forced to miss five races at the end of 2022 due to a concussion.

“Moving up the ladder is probably the biggest step I will take in my driving career in terms of competition,” said Gragson. “I know what it’s like at Xfinity and there’s a new guy who can bully him.

“Being a rookie, I’m going into it trying to finish every lap and every race. I need to earn the respect of these guys. If we can improve every week and every race, we can get better than the week before and that’s the progression I want to make.”

The challenge will not be easy for Gargson. He took over the No. 42 car driven by Ty Dillon in 2022. Dillon finished 29th in the standings, with just one top-ten finish compared to teammate Eric Jones’ win at Darlington and 13 top-10s.

Gragson gained some experience with the next-generation car last year, running 13 more races in Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 car. He said the experience prepared him for what to expect in 2023.

But with so much to learn, Gragson is keeping expectations modest.

“We’ve got good people and good energy going into the season,” Gragson said. “I have great teammates. I am excited about how this team has developed since I first signed, what is its development and where we can get it.”

“I think we need to set very low goals. The main goal should be to finish every race and get experience. It will be tough, no doubt. If we can grow and keep learning, that’s what I’m excited to see.”

Gragson will make his second start at the Great American Race next month.

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