By: Ashley McCubbin
When you look at the drivers who are talented on the road courses in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Noah Gragson is someone whom comes up in conversation. However, the startling fact is that he has yet to score a victory.
Fortunately, while no trophies are on the mantel from past trips to Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course, there’s the benefit in confidence following a top-five two years ago.
“I think just having that in the back of my mind is big,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “Our team like I said earlier has had good speed and has had good speed there in particular, and our confidence is still high by just how this has gone so far. When you go to the race track, I don’t know how you can’t be happy so I always have my head held high – at least going to the track, and knowing I have a good opportunity.
“I start 13th this weekend and I’m going to try and work my way up through the field. If it’s anything like last weekend, we were able to a 23rd-place car and drive up to second-place with it at Charlotte. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to be, but I feel confident in myself. If I don’t believe in myself, nobody else will so I got my head held high and I’m ready to go with a lot of confidence.”
Through his career, Gragson has shown talent turning both left and right, as evident with ARCA Menards West Series victories. It carried into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as he came close to winning at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park with late-race contact with then-teammate Todd Gilliland.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series has since presented many opportunities. Gragson was fast at Mid-Ohio in 2018, but getting involved in an accident and a rebound resulted in a fifth. He showed speed this year at the Daytona International Speedway road course and led multiple laps, but a couple spins relegated him to second.
With checkered flags at a short track (Bristol Motor Speedway) and a restrictor plate track (Daytona), being able to do the same on a road course would check off another box.
“Tt’s something that we’re working really hard for,” he commented. “Obviously we’re out training at the Go Pro Motorplex and have obviously spent a lot of time with Josh Wise and the other drivers in the Chevy Development Program just trying to be better on the road courses. We have a few wins in the K&N Series and I guess now ARCA Series.
“Overall, I’m excited. We finished fifth with a really torn up car the last time we went to Mid-Ohio and I feel like I’ve become a better driver and hopefully we’ll be able to maximize this weekend and capitalize when we’re there.”