By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Noah Gragson, the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park presents an opportunity. Despite having zero starts at the Canadian road course, Gragson, a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, has had success on road courses.
In four road course starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Gragson has two victories, three top-fives, and four top-10s. His two victories came at the Utah Motorsports Campus in 2016. Gragson also has four road course starts in the K&N Pro Series East with one victory (New Jersey Motorsports Park) and two top-10s.
Gragson admitted that he really doesn’t have a secret for road courses,
“I don’t really have a secret, but it comes from my background of growing up racing Legend cars and racing at a little, indoor electric go-kart track in Las Vegas. I really liked doing that, so some friends of mine helped me develop my road racing skills. I spent two or three days at a road course in New Mexico where I learned the fundamentals of braking and turning. It sounds easy, but braking on a road course is like an art form. There is a lot of technique as to how you slow the car down, not just jamming on the brakes.”
Heading into Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Gragson sits ninth in the points standings, 34-points behind the Playoff cutoff, and 197 points behind points leader, and teammate, Christopher Bell. Mathematically, Gragson can still point his way into the Playoffs. However, only a win can guarantee him a Playoff berth.
For Gragson, his main focus this weekend is victory lane,
“Just winning my first truck race would be huge. That is really my main focus this weekend. I’m not going to be happy with second, or third or any further back. I would be pretty disappointed in myself if I can’t get the job done. Marcus Richmond (crew chief) and the guys at KBM have worked really hard on this new Switch Tundra for me, so I’m not going to be happy anything less than a win.”
The chassis that Gragson’s crew chief, Marcus Richmond, is bring north of the border is KBM-049, a brand-new No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra. To prepare for Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Gragson competed in the ARCA Racing Series event at Road America. He also spent time in TRD’s simulator.
Richmond believes Gragson will run well on the road course,
“I think he definitely has a knack for road racing. He’s done really well and catches on really fast. He’s done well in the TRD simulator, so hopefully he’ll catch on quickly at CTMP as well and we’ll have a shot at the win.”
To date, Gragson two top-fives, nine top-10s, and two pole positions this season. Now Gragson, Richmond, and their entire No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra team will look to earn a Playoff berth on Sunday.