Gray Gaulding was inducted to the 2014-2015 NASCAR NEXT class at Richmond International Raceway on Friday due to impressing the voting panel with one win and 13 top-10 finishes among the K&N East and West divisions.
“I think it’s a really good program,” Gaulding expressed to Speedway Media about the NASCAR NEXT announcement on Saturday. “Thanks to NASCAR and NASCAR NEXT, it really helps us get our name out there on the media and racecar driver side, there’s a bunch of talent in the group this year and hopefully I can stay a part of the program for a while and I’m just thankful that NASCAR asked me to be a part of it again.”
Gaulding, piloting from Colonial Heights, Virginia, scored his first career triumph in the K&N West Pro Series at Phoenix International Raceway last season becoming the youngest K&N West victor in series history, in addition to shocking many NASCAR owners.
“On the K&N (East) side it’s all about learning and doing the right things, fortunately, I’ve been able to win in the K&N (West) Series, I’m actually the youngest winner and pole sitter in that division, so we’ve been able to break a lot of records, but now it’s time to go win a championship this season,” Gaulding further commented about his tenure in the K&N East Pro Series to date.
Gaulding, 16, is competing full-time in the K&N East Pro Series this season. He’s captured three top-10 finishes already this young season; yet, he’s still craving better results.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have the run we wanted at Richmond, we ran third but faded away late.” Gaulding explained about his dismal finish at Richmond. “We have to go back to the shop and fix that, you can’t win a championship finishing 11th, hopefully we’ll improve and go to the next one.”
Despite Gaulding’s first-career triumph being a memorable one, he’s dealt with the controversial move that’s questioned his capabilities and aggressiveness.
“It’s racing when you move somebody out of the way for the win,” Gaulding noted about the incident with Cole Custer at Phoenix International Raceway last season. “Like I’ve always said, I would wreck my mom for a victory, it doesn’t matter.”
Gaulding pile-drived Custer going into turn three on the final lap at Phoenix, sending Custer spinning in a cloud of smoke and Gaulding to victory lane.
“You’ve got to do what’s expected, and that’s winning, that’s what I was raised to do.” Gaulding said about his passion to win. “When I go out and put my heart and soul in something my goal is to win.”
Due to the aggressive move the NTS Motorsports driver has been criticized by fans and fellow competitors, however, he’s hoping to use their hatred as motivation – utilizing the famous phrase ‘let haters be my motivators’.
“People are going to talk either way,” Gaulding expressed about people disliking him for making the controversial move. “And as a driver you have to put that behind you, half of it’s jealousy and I know I’ve worked hard to get where I am today.”
Gaulding finished with a powerful statement that shows this developing driver will certainly be, like him or not, a force to reckon with in the next few seasons and beyond.
“I know how to race, and sometimes you have throw the friendship out the window because sometimes the trophies all that matters.”