Friday night, the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Richmond Raceway was another short track spectacular. The Toyota Care 250 was filled with action on the 0.75-mile oval among many of sport’s rising stars.
Once again, there were no Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars in the field, and four drivers were not only racing for a win, but for $100,000.
Nonetheless, another young star was making his XFINITY Series debut and caught the eye of many after the event. Las Vegas native Noah Gragson brought the No. 18 Switch Toyota Camry home in the second position.
“It’s tough,” Gragson said of his first XFINITY start. “I found a little something in the track, a little speed there at the end of the second stage on old tires, and I kept it in my memory banks till the end, and I told my team, ‘I’ve got something when it’s time to go — just tell me when.’
“And about 18 to go, I told them, ‘I can’t wait any longer; I don’t have any more patience.’ And I ran Christopher down about two or three car lengths.”
After starting 11th,Gragson nearly passed teammate Christopher Bell in the late stages of the race for the lead, but came up short. Despite being frustrated, the 19-year-old demonstrated that Joe Gibbs Racing doesn’t lack talent and has many skilled drivers in their organization.
We saw it the weekend prior, when Ryan Preece, who isn’t running a full-time schedule in the XFINITY Series, won his second career victory.
But for Gragson, he is young, and his future is bright as he is learning from one of the best in the business, Kyle Busch. He grew up watching him race, and now the future Hall of Famer is his mentor.
His impressive performance at Richmond just added to his success so far. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver saw victory lane last season at Martinsville and has two top-fives in four races so far this year.
Gragson’s personality outside of a race car is fun and humorous, especially on social media. But when he is strapped in a race car he is focused on running strong and hopefully parking it in victory lane.
The KBM driver is still developing and he will be one to keep an eye after showing signs of success early in his career.
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