RACING

Why Petty GMS is ‘blessed’ that Noah Gragson is joining the Cup squad

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Petty GMS on Wednesday formalized the hiring of Gragson – currently a full-time Xfinity Series driver with JR Motorsports – on a multi-year contract to drive his No. 42 Chevrolet in the Cup Series from 2023.

The sometimes feisty 24-year-old Las Vegas driver has had his share of run-ins with other competitors during his career and even with NASCAR, which fined him $30,000 and earned him 30 points for intentionally destroying another driver earlier this season.

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But there’s no doubting the talent of Gragson, who includes eight wins, 52 top fives and 85 top 10s in 123 Xfinity Series starts. He also boasts two career wins in the Truck Series and seven combined wins in the ARCA East and West Series dating back to 2015.

Noah Gragson, JR Motorsports, Bass Pro Shops TrueTimber BRCC Chevrolet Camaro, Winner

Photo by: Gavin Baker/NKP/Motorsport Images

However, with Gragson’s move to Petty GMS next season comes a potentially even bigger bonus – valuable seat time in the new Next Gen car, which made its Cup Series debut this year.

While competing in Xfinity, Gragson has also run a partial Cup calendar in 2022, resulting in entries for Beard Motorsports (twice) and Kaulig Racing (seven races so far).

“It’s very exciting. We’re so lucky that he can run these races,” said Mike Beam, president of Petty GMS. don’t waste the first round because the next year you’re back there, you’re a rookie again.’ You must have an overview of this case.

“He just needs to do laps. We really appreciate the opportunity he has there (at Kaulig and Beard). It will only benefit us. »

Learn to drive the “difficult” Next Gen car

Most of the drivers selected in NASCAR’s lower tier series usually have no previous Cup experience let alone in the Next Gen car. With teams not allowed to test on their own, Gragson’s Cup siege time this year is extremely valuable.

“It’s been quite a challenge,” Gragson said of his Cup races this season. “Cars are difficult to drive. They are really difficult to drive. When you don’t perform it every week, it’s even more of a challenge and you catch up.

“That being said, the extra track time has been a benefit I think, and my dream has always been to get into the Cup Series. Mike Beam and (owner) Maury Gallagher contacted me a few months ago with the opportunity and it seemed to be the right solution for me.

“Looking back, the extra track time is the right thing to do. I think once you’re ready for Daytona next year, I’ll already have some experience. I won’t go with it. blinkers on the eyes.

The Gragson’s Cup experience will also be important as Beam has made it clear the organization is looking for results as soon as possible, in particular putting the No.42 level with No.43 this year with driver Erik Jones.

” We do not have the time. We have to go. We’re not going to mess around here,” Beam said. “Maury is committed to it and what it costs to do it. We buy what we have to do to run well but we can’t have any – I don’t mean weak links – but we just have to go for it, and that’s just God’s truth.

“Noah knows it. I talked to Noah about it. I said, ‘We will support you but we have to go.’ Eric knows it. Our plan is just to run hard.

Erik Jones, Petty GMS Motorsports, FOCUSfactor Chevrolet Camaro

Erik Jones, Petty GMS Motorsports, FOCUSfactor Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Considering the organization only came together last December, the fact that Jones has been in contention to win races this year is a testament to the strength of the organization and that it is on the right track.

“We’ve come so far in nine months,” Beam said. “It’s like you can buy 600 horsepower but you have to make 650, you have to work on it. We have to work on it to take it to the next level.

“It’s about me hiring the right people, it’s about all the guys in the Cup who have direction. It’s about effort, that’s what it will to need.

While Gragson’s crew chief for next season has yet to be named, his former JRM crew chief, Dave Elenz, is already working at Petty GMS in his first year as a crew chief. team for Jones.

Jones and Elenz will continue to work together in 2023, but Elenz said he welcomes the opportunity of Gragson joining the organization.

“I really like Noé. He did a lot of great things on the race track at JR Motorsports,” Elenz said. “I don’t know if you could have two other different personalities, which I think is a good thing for us. By keeping Noah in line for a bit, I think Erik can help with that. I think Noah will bring us some liveliness.

“It’s a good combination. They are both quite young but Erik definitely has a lot of Cup racing experience. This will definitely help guide Noah and I hope they lift each other up. The better your teammate, the better your organization will be and that’s how it is.

“They’re going to provide more quality information if they run alongside you. It’s good from that point of view and it’s good from a motivational point of view. It forces everyone to work harder. “

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