HAGERSVILLE, Ontario — There’s nothing like the feeling of going home for anybody. That describes Noah Gragson this weekend as he heads home to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the second race of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs.
“I think it’s going to be good,” he told POPULAR SPEED a couple weeks ago. “It’s my hometown. Going to go out there a week early, spend some time with the family; it’s nice being able to sleep in the bed that I grew up sleeping in. Getting home, I’ve never had more confidence in my team. Right now, I feel like we’re really in a strong position. Obviously, we would’ve liked to win Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park), but it is what it is.”
The playoffs didn’t get off to a smooth start for Gragson, as after winning the first two stages at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, contact with his teammate Todd Gilliland while battling for the lead in the last corner on the final lap sent both trucks spinning around, resulting in a ninth-place finish.
Gragson said the pair spoke about the contact on Monday after the race with Gragson telling him, “Hey man, we’re going to be teammates and racing each other for a long time. Let’s put this behind us and go on from here.”
That begins this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Gragson finished 12th following a tire issue in the late stages. It seems to be the theme of his season as the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver has run up front throughout the year, leading 510 laps with stage victories, but only one race victory (Kansas Speedway in May).
“I think if you look off of the execution, speed, I’d rate it probably an A,” Gragson said of his season. “But it just doesn’t show on the stat sheet of getting the job done at the end of the day. Some of that comes down to strategy not paying off at the end, some of that is driver error, sometimes flat tires. So I feel like we could’ve had three or four legit wins but it just hasn’t fallen our way.
“I feel like it’s been a really good season. I feel like my team is really good. I feel like I’m the best that I’ve ever been behind the wheel. Just kind of learn every time that I’ve gone out there.”
With the performance that they have shown, Gragson believes that the No. 18 team will be one of those in the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway battling for the title.
“I think we can go to the final four for sure,” he said. “Some people doubt us, and that’s fine. That’s more motivation for me. That makes me hungrier as a driver when I see stuff like that. I know I have a good team that can compete on a weekly basis. Now it’s just going out there to prove everyone wrong.”
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