Noah Gragson is a polarizing driver that has the capability of being a household name when he moves up full-time a year from now in the NASCAR Cup Series. He’s either a driver you love or hate. Reminiscent of Kyle Busch already who oh by the way, the duo share a hometown of Las Vegas.
Before he moves up to NASCAR’s premiere series though, he’d like to end his NASCAR Xfinity Series tenure on top. He’s got a great chance to do so too.
Gragson has reached victory lane 8 times this season including 5 of the 8 in the last 9 races. He just won at Homestead to stamp his name into the Championship 4, but I don’t necessarily think it was going to take a win to get him to Phoenix with a shot at a championship. He’s been bar none the best driver over the course of the second half of the season.
The 24-year old worse than fourth just twice over the last 12 races and we’re going back to the first weekend of August. Both of the finishes were on drafting tracks at Daytona and Talladega and even in ‘Dega, he still finished 10th.
He had 15 top 10 finishes over the final 17 races and the 2 races that he didn’t get one was a DQ in New Hampshire and 22nd in Daytona. That’s it.
Which is why he’s the clear cut favorite to hoist the championship trophy this Saturday afternoon in Phoenix. He won there back in March and was runner-up in this race in 2020.
A championship won this weekend would erase the last two years of disappointments.
For that 2020 season, he had 6 top 3 finishes in the 7 race playoffs. It was just that 36th place finish in Kansas that year to what knocked him out of the Round of 8.
Last year, he made it to the Championship 4 but was 12th in the season finale.
This year, he’s hoping to make up for those lost experiences and end his tenure in NASCAR’s version of AAA on top. He started 2022 off with 5 top 4 finishes in the first six races and can end with JR Motorsports their 4th championship in the last 9 years, all in the No. 9 Chevrolet.
“Winning the championship has been our goal all year long, and we won at Phoenix in the spring,” Gragson said. “This weekend, it’s for all the marbles, and this team is at its best when something big is on the line.
“It’s been a great season for all of us on the No. 9 and for JR Motorsports, so the way to close it out is to win and bring a championship home with us.”