By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The search for sponsorship was a quick one for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Safelite AutoGlass will be a primary sponsor on Noah Gragson’s No. 18 Toyota Tundra in all 23 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. Safelite will also be an associate sponsor on the No. 51 Toyota Tundra in the nine events that Harrison Burton will be behind the wheel.
Burton has made seven starts in the Truck Series for KBM. Earlier this week, it was announced that he would run nine races in an expanded schedule. In those seven races, Burton earned one top-five finish, fourth at Martinsville Speedway while his teammate, Gragson, brought home the track’s signature trophy, a Grandfather Clock.
“We’re honored that Safelite AutoGlass has chosen to partner with KBM for the 2018 season and we look forward to hosting all of their employees and customers who come out to the track in bunches to support the program each and every race,” said team owner Kyle Busch. “Both Noah and Harrison are talented on the track and have great personalities off the track, so they will be great representatives for Safelite.”
Last season, Gragson played the role of spoiler, taking the victory in the 2017 Truck Series Playoffs at Martinsville. In addition to being a Playoff spoiler with the victory, he also earned four top fives, 13 top-10s, and three pole positions.
“Noah showed continuous improvement in 2017 winning a couple of poles in the first half of the season,” Busch continued, “and in the second half of the season putting whole races together. He was able to showcase his potential late in the year winning in the Super Late Model at Winchester and followed that up with a Truck Series victory at Martinsville a few weeks later. His progress was similar to Christopher’s (Bell) at the end of 2016, and we’re confident now that Noah has a year of experience in the trucks under his belt, he will be able to win more races and compete for a championship this year. Harrison also made great strides during his six-race schedule in 2017 and we look forward to being a part of his continued development as he returns for an expanded part-time schedule at KBM in 2018.”
The comparison between Christopher Bell and Gragson is one that leaves expectations high. Bell dominated the stage racing, racking up Playoff Points, and practically walking away with the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship. With Gragson the only full-time driver announced for KBM in 2018, more focus and resources will be at his disposal.
“This year is already off to a great start knowing that I’ll be back at Kyle Busch Motorsports to compete for a Truck Series championship in 2018 with Safelite as the primary sponsor on my No. 18 Tundra,” Gragson said. “Having Kyle as a mentor and the technology that Toyota and TRD have in place for young drivers allowed me to learn a lot in my first full-time season in trucks, and I know that I’m better prepared to start 2018 off strong. I was able to get my first taste of victory late last year and it was special. This year I plan on climbing more fences and celebrating more wins with everyone at Safelite.”
Safelite has been a sponsor in NASCAR for the past several years. The company’s colors have been on Toyota Tundras driven by Rico Abreu and Ben Rhodes.
“Our associates have a passion for NASCAR and are huge fans of our partnership with Toyota, and the developmental driver program,” Garth Beck, Safelite AutoGlass vice president of retail field operations, West said. “We look forward to this year’s season and working with KBM. It’s going to be a great opportunity for continued learning with a lot of excitement along the way.”
Now Gragson, Busch, and the entire No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra team will prepare for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway next month.