Beard Motorsports has selected Noah Gragson to drive its No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro in the 64th running of the Daytona 500 Feb. 20 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
It marks Gragson’s return to Beard Motorsports, as the generational race team founded by the late Mark Beard Sr., and now run by his wife, Linda Beard, tabbed Gragson for last year’s Daytona 500. Unfortunately, Gragson was collected in a multicar accident just four laps short of the finish in his 150-mile qualifying race, which prevented him from advancing to the Daytona 500.
As a non-chartered team, Beard Motorsports has no guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500, meaning it has to race its way into The Great American Race.
“To say that we can’t wait to get back to Daytona is a massive understatement,” said Amie Beard, executive vice president, Beard Motorsports. “From the moment my father founded this race team, we all took a tremendous amount of pride in showing up and performing right alongside the established teams in the sport. Last year didn’t go the way we wanted, but that’s just made us more motivated to return.”
That motivation is echoed by Mark Beard Jr., who helps his sister, Amie, manage the race team.
“We have a NextGen car, we have Noah, and we still have our alliance with Richard Childress Racing,” he said. “Some folks might be ready for the offseason, but we’re definitely on for Daytona.”
Gragson has a similar mindset. With qualifying unavailable at the other superspeedway races in 2021, Beard Motorsports didn’t have the chance to race again. The 2022 Daytona 500 provides that long-sought opportunity for Beard Motorsports to get back to the track and Gragson to get that first career NASCAR Cup Series start.
“I’m so happy to have this opportunity to return to Daytona with Beard Motorsports,” said the 23-year-old Gragson. “It was good to get a taste of Cup racing in last year’s Duel, but it left us all wanting more. We’ve got some unfinished business down there.”
Helping take care of that unfinished business is Brendan Gaughan. The former NASCAR Cup Series driver who finished his racing career with Beard Motorsports is now its vice president of racing operations.
“All of us look forward to having Brendan up on the pit box with us,” said Linda Beard. “He has been with us since the beginning and become a part of our family. His personality and his relationships in this sport are essential to our race team. In a season where seemingly everything is new, his presence provides stability. It’s great to have him next to me as we continue this journey.”
Beard Motorsports has proven to be the little team that could, a modern-day David competing against the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. The team employs just one fulltime person – crew chief Darren Shaw – and has since its debut in the 2017 Daytona 500 when Gaughan finished 11th.
Beard Motorsports makes it all work by taking a strategic approach to its racing endeavors. Its alliance with Richard Childress Racing and singular focus on the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway have yielded solid results, most recently a pair of top-10 finishes at Daytona in 2020 – seventh in the Daytona 500 and eighth in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 – both at the hands of Gaughan.
“Beard Motorsports has proven that it can run with the big teams there at Daytona, and I’m just really looking forward to getting another crack at it,” Gragson said. “We know we have to race our way into the Daytona 500, and I’m very appreciative of the faith the Beard Family has in me.”
Gragson is a five-time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the first of which came in the 2020 season opener at Daytona. His recently completed 2021 season netted three wins and a spot in the Championship 4, where the Las Vegas-native ultimately finished a career-high third in points. The 2022 season will be Gragson’s fourth full year in the Xfinity Series and he returns to the familiar No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports.