Noah Gragson ready to compete for – and against – Kaulig Racing in 2022
Noah Gragson will make his first NASCAR Cup Series start this season, as he is set to compete in the Daytona 500 with Beard Motorsports and has signed a 14-race deal to drive the No. 16 Chevrolet Kaulig, sharing the schedule with AJ Allmendinger and Daniel Hemic.
In addition to the partial Cup schedule, Gragson returns to the NASCAR XFINITY Series driving the #9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, where he will play his fourth full season with the team and compete for the championship.
This means that on Saturday Gragson will be competing AGAINST Kaulig Racing, battling Allmendinger and Hemric for the XFINITY Series championship.
Allmendinger, Hemric and Gragson were all part of XFINITY Series Championship 4 in 2021, with Hemric winning the championship with a last-lap pass from incoming Cup Series rookie Austin Cindric.
But then, on Sunday, Gragson will compete FOR Matt Kaulig, Chris Rice and the men and women of Kaulig Racing in their first full-time foray into Cup Series competition.
While it’s an interesting dynamic, don’t expect it to change the riding style of the 23-year-old Gragson, who is known to be aggressive and often runs with a ladies’ mindset. or wreckers.
“I’ve already told the Kaulig guys I’d like to apologize for Saturdays in advance, but on Sundays I’m going to be on board with them,” Gragson said. on Saturday and be all-in as a teammate on Sunday.
“It’s kind of what it is, but I’m going to run as hard as I can for my respective race team that day. I apologize in advance. I’m sure there will be more excuses throughout the season. We’re still going to beat and bang on Saturday, not intentionally, but we run hard and run for the wins and sometimes it comes down to that. But on Sunday, you have to somehow erase Saturdays and regroup on Sundays.
Before stepping into the Next Gen car in Kaulig’s camp, Gragson will look to make his Cup Series debut for the second straight season, driving the No. 62 Beard Motorsports car in the Daytona 500. As an entry unchartered, Gragson and Team Beard will need to qualify in the 40-car field for the Great American Race.
Last season, the Las Vegas native didn’t make the field as he failed to make a qualifying lap after the car failed inspection three times. Then in his Duel, he was caught in a crash four laps from the finish.
Although the goal is the same – to lay the groundwork for the Daytona 500 – the circumstances are different.
“Last year we were kind of put in a box without going through the technology for qualifying, so we really had to race hard the whole race. This year is a bit different. We only have one car. We don’t have any other chassis at the store. It’s going to be somewhat in my head, is that we have to keep the car together and there are no spare cars.
“It will definitely be a challenge, but a bit different challenge this year knowing that I can’t race to my full potential and be as aggressive as I want to be.”
How does this change the strategy when it comes to making the Daytona 500?
“For me it’s going to be kind of a lap and hopefully some other guys will wreck and then be there at the end and try to complete every lap. I’d rather be aggressive and learn the car and try to learn at every turn.
“That’s what I’m trying to do in Xfinity. It’s going to be a bit different and it’s going to be a challenge for me to stay in the back and not make aggressive moves. But it’s kind of the cards that we have distributed at the moment.”