Another former winner of the Tom Dawson Trophy has joined the fold for the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway. 2018 Derby winner Noah Gragson has teamed up with Wauters Motorsports to chase his second win in the crown jewel Super Late Model race.
It will be a reunion of a partnership from earlier in Gragson’s career, as he competed in Wauters Motorsports Super Late Models before joining Kyle Busch Motorsports.
“Just through our relationship with Richie Wauters in the past, back in 2016. He wanted me to come down and run his car. Jake Finch has been driving his car down there, testing and stuff. I’m lucky for the Finch family to let me run their car and Richie Wauters to house it for them and whatnot.”
It was with KBM that Gragson won the 2017 Winchester 400 as well as the 2018 Snowball Derby. Gragson also won two NASCAR Truck Series events with KBM before joining JR Motorsports’ Xfinity program in 2019.
Now, Gragson returns to the Derby after missing out on a chance to defend his title in last year’s race. The Nevada native’s excitement for the Derby is as high as it was before he joined its list of winners.
“I’m super excited for it. I’m excited to get back down there. It’s a fun race. I wanted to get down there last year, but I had a wedding to go to, so I wasn’t able to go. This year, I’m super pumped up to be there. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
The greatest challenge for Gragson after two full-time campaigns in the NASCAR Xfinity Series will be reacclimating to the Super Late Model. However, he is hopeful he can quickly get back into the flow at Five Flags.
“I haven’t been in a Super Late Model since I last won the Snowball Derby. It’s been about two years now, almost two years to the day. It’s going to be a different feel than what I’m used to in the Xfinity cars, but I hope to knock that rust off quickly.”
Nonetheless, Gragson believes the lessons learned since he last drove for Richie Wauters makes the combination a very potent one entering the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby.
“I’ve had some great opportunities in the past and have a great opportunity this weekend. With how I know Richie and how we’ve worked together in the past and my knowledge now compared to when we worked together, I’ve come leaps and bounds.”
Two years later, Gragson still has a hard time believing he won the crown jewel of the Super Late Model world in 2018. With that feather in his cap, however, Gragson is looking forward to a fun weekend at the track with significantly less pressure on his shoulders.
“I’m excited to watch Jake Finch in the ‘Flake. He’s going to be racing the Snowflake, so that’ll be cool. It’ll be a fun weekend overall. I’m looking to just have some fun.
“It doesn’t take anything away from the pressure and how serious I’ll be, but they say the first one is the hardest to win. Now I can enjoy my time at the Derby and I’m not so stressed out to win. The biggest thing is there won’t be so much pressure this year because my name is on the trophy and I know what it takes.”
Race fans unable to attend this year’s Snowball Derby can watch Gragson take on the likes of Chase Elliott and the top Super Late Model racers in the country live on Speed51.TV. Click here to order your pay-per-view video ticket today.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo