Still fresh off one of his biggest triumphs behind the wheel of a race car, 2018 Snowball Derby winner Noah Gragson is not wasting anytime getting back behind the wheel of a Super Late Model. Later this month, the Las Vegas born young gun will return to one of the tracks where it all started to come together for him: Tucson Speedway in Arizona.
Gragson is expecting to compete in the sixth running of the Chilly Willy 150 on January 24-26 at the Tucson, Arizona oval, site of his breakthrough win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West back in 2015.
“I’m excited to go. It’s always good to get back to Tucson, that’s where I got my first K&N West Series win. I finished second in the Chilly Willy a few years ago. It’s a fun track and race to go to for sure,” Gragson told Speed51.com.
“I’ll be running for Dustin Ash again. I’ve run every Chilly Willy I’ve been to with him," Gragson explained. "He knows his way around there, Dustin has helped me out there. Plus, I’ve had a lot of experience there, so it definitely pays off. A big part of it is just enjoying the race track, and if you like the race track you can run well any time.”
The 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series runner-up is in the midst of a big transition for 2019, moving from Kyle Busch Motorsports to JR Motorsports to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Gragson has made the Chilly Willy an annual dress rehearsal for himself following the winter break, and this year it may just be all the more important.
At the same time, he just wants to race, and have a good time in front of some his home fans.
“It’s just good to get back behind the wheel and get a nice dress rehearsal before the NASCAR stuff starts, especially this year," he stated. "We’ll just take it easy, race, and hopefully take home a big check and another trophy.”
Last year, prior to arriving at Tucson on Thursday night for the first night of racing, Gragson had to fly cross country after waking up before dawn on the east coast that same morning. With no practice or qualifying, he won his 50-lap prelim feature. This year the schedule is tight again, but he's taking it all in stride.
“Supposed to test the Xfinity car at Atlanta the Monday after, so I’ll have to hurry back on Sunday," he said. "But getting to Tucson should be good this time, be there with plenty of time for the first night. Last year was good, no practice, no qualifying, being able to win that first night.”
With the Snowball Derby not too far in the rearview mirror, Gragson wants to head to Florida Speedweeks with the cactus trophy parked alongside the Tom Dawson Trophy.
“I’m always eager to check off more races, especially after winning at the Snowball Derby.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com