By: Ashley McCubbin
After coming close to winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship last season, Noah Gragson entered this year as an early favorite. However, things have not gone as envisioned with no victories under his belt thus far.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “But we keep on pushing hard each and every other week, working hard through the week, and get closer, and trying to do the best job.”
Gragson has scored seven top-five’s and 12 top-10’s through 21 races, but it seems he has spent most weeks fighting back from adversity to score those finishes. He has also failed to complete six events due to engine failures and crashes.
Though rather than dwell on the past, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet says he is focused and working hard as they near the start of the playoffs.
“I know we have good cars in the playoffs, good tracks, and just trying to focus on being better each week,” he commented. “I feel like we’re a team capable of running in the top-five; we’ve just had so much stupid little things take us out of contention. I feel like our bad days are the only days that we’re finishing races. Our team has been extremely hard. The guys in the motor shop have been working extremely hard to figure out their issues on that side. The guys have been working their tails off, but I don’t know if there’s one thing that I can pinpoint.”
The lack of victories may have him removed from the favorites list alongside Austin Cindric, A.J. Allmendinger, and Justin Allgaier, but that doesn’t mean Gragson is counting himself out yet.
“We haven’t been winning races as of late, which stings, but our team morale is up, my confidence is up when we get to the race track,” he said. “That’s why we go – we know we’ll have a shot, but it’s been a rough year for us. Its flown by, and I feel like that because we told ourselves it is going to get better, and it just has ticked by.
“I know we have a good team when the playoffs come and we have good speed. I’m really fortunate to be racing here at JR Motorsports and to have a chance, and just trying to ultimately focus on everything that I can be better for this team to get us stronger for these last couple weeks.”
Being successful these next couple of weeks could be critical, as Gragson has yet to sign a deal for 2022 and JR Motorsports has already announced Allgaier, Sam Mayer, and Josh Berry for next season.
“I don’t really have a comment on that,” he stated. “Everybody is working on their cars and I’m really thankful for everybody at JR Motorsports and everybody on my team that believes in me, and we’re just focused on these upcoming races.”