Noah Gragson may be a rookie in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but Wednesday night’s UNOH 200 (8:30 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN) at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway won’t be his first time on the high banked short track. Gragson, has raced there twice in other series in fact. Most recently he competed in the CARS Super Late Model Tour at Bristol in May driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). Unfortunately, he was taken out of contention in an accident on Lap 10. He also made one start there in 2016’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race when he finished 12th.
He’s hoping the past experience on the Tennessee track helps him this week.
“My previous experience there will help me quite a bit, just knowing how to get on pit road and the characteristics of the race track,” Gragson said. “I’ll be in a different type of vehicle being in the truck, but for the most part it should be the same. I haven’t really had a lot of experience with the VHT on the bottom. When I ran the CARS Super Late Model race in May was the only experience I have with the VHT, but it was three weeks after the Cup race, so it was pretty worn off by then. I have a rough idea of what to expect.”
He’s to a point where solid results aren’t going to matter. Currently, Gragson sits ninth in the points standings, but Kaz Grala behind him has a victory. With eight drivers making the Truck playoffs and five having wins, that leaves three wildcard spots available. Gragson, is 44 points out.
Gragson, will not enter the arena alone for this event. With the addition of a fourth KBM Tundra for this race, he will have some knowledgeable teammates to lean on for information. Owner-driver Kyle Busch has won twice at Bristol in the Truck Series (2010 and 2013), Christopher Bell led 101 laps in last year’s NCWTS race and Harrison Burton captured a win (and a sword) earlier this year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race leading 68 of 70 laps.
Gragson, also has eight top 10’s over his last nine starts, so the success has been there. He just needs to win a race to put himself into the playoffs. That could come on Wednesday night.
But, Gragson did talk about how difficult it is to drive around a track like Bristol too.
“Racing at Bristol reminds me of that Gravitron ride at the state fair,” he continued. “You go inside, lay up against the wall and it starts spinning you around really fast and the gravity holds you against the wall so you can’t move. That’s what it feels like to go around Bristol. Your head is pinned to the right side of the headrest because there are so many G-forces from the high speeds and banking. It’s utter chaos and you are always racing someone side by side, whether for the lead, or 15th place or a lapped car. That’s what makes it so difficult.”