Las Vegas, Nevada native Noah Gragson will be returning to his roots of Super Late Model racing next month for the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN).
Gragson, a full-time driver for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, doesn’t have a lot of free time in his schedule to run Super Late Models, but he’s going to make an exception for an event of this magnitude.
“I liked it a lot in the K&N series. We were running probably 16-second laps times in the K&N car, so it’s going to be a whole lot faster in a Super Late Model,” Gragson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Donnie Wilson tested there for that tire test and I saw some video of it that Speed51 posted and it was really cool to see a Super Late Model go around there.”
Gragson’s trip to Bristol on the weekend of May 19-21 won’t be his first trip to the “Last Great Colosseum.” He made a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start at the track last season, starting 14th and finishing 12th.
He believes that running a Super Late Model around the high-banked ½-mile will be a lot different than racing the heavier K&N East Stock Cars.
The young up-and-comer has high hopes for the Short Track U.S. Nationals and sees the potential that the race has.
“I heard stories that a few years ago, six or seven years ago before I got into racing, that they took Super Late Models there,” Gragson stated. “I don’t know, it’s going to be really fast and there are going to be a lot of guys there. It might be bigger than the Snowball Derby, I don’t know yet. It is definitely going to be cool. You’re going to have to get up on the wheel if you’re going to want to win the thing.”
While currently living in the Mooresville, North Carolina area, Gragson is making sure he’s 100-percent prepared for the historic event, which is why he is piloting a Kyle Busch Motorsports Super Late Model.
“There’s a lot of confidence going into the race. We are probably going to test one or two times before and it is definitely going to be very busy with 500-600 cars there that weekend,” Gragson said. “We want to be all ready to go before we even get to the track, before the race comes we want to have everything dialed in. Its going to be really hard to make laps around a half-mile race track when you have so many cars in the Super Late Model division like the 70 cars entered.”
Bringing the best of the best is what needs to be done to compete with the best of the best and Gragson knows his team will give him the car; it’s just up to him to get the job done.
“I think it’ll be a good deal. Cody, my crew chief at KBM, he’s got a lot of knowledge. He went to the Snowball Derby with Christopher Bell and tried some new things out with building the chassis so I think they definitely have their stuff together with the Super Late Model because I know they have it together on the truck side of stuff. Now its just on me to perform. I have all the puzzle pieces; I just need to put them together.”
Gragson quickly took the racing world by storm as he came out kicking and swinging in the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season. The young driver captured two wins and came up just short of the championship title. With six total K&N Pro Series wins, including two at half-mile tracks (Stafford Motor Speedway and Tucson Speedway) and a handful of Super Late Model wins at the Las Vegas Bullring under his belt, Gragson looks forward to taking to the high banks of Bristol.
“The K&N experience and more seat time is better. The short track half-mile racing is right up in my wheel house because its what I am used to. If it was a mile-and-a-half race in a Super Late Model, which will never happen, or something where aero plays more into things then I definitely think it would be more difficult for me, but I think we will be good there.”
The Short Track U.S Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway is an event fans and drivers alike are not going to want to miss out on. For those who can’t make the trip, Speed51.com will be offering a live pay-per-view broadcast on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21. Live video tickets can be purchased at an early bird special rate by clicking here.
Story by: Hannah Newhouse, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit:Speed51.com Photo