Fanttik Racing: Noah Gragson Las Vegas Advance

NOAH GRAGSON
Las Vegas Advance
No. 10 Fanttik Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

Event Overview

● Event: Las Vegas 400 (Round 3 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 3
● Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.5-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 267 laps/400.5 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 85 laps / Final Stage: 102 laps
● TV/Radio: FOX / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Notes of Interest

● Noah Gragson is a Las Vegas native and the Las Vegas 400 NASCAR Cup Series race this Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway serves as a homecoming for the 25-year-old racer. After beginning his 2024 campaign with a strong ninth-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, where he was the highest-finishing Ford driver, Gragson is seeking a rebound at Las Vegas. In the series’ prior race last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Gragson was caught up in a 16-car accident on just the second lap of the 260-lap contest, leaving him with an undeserved 36th-place finish and dropping the Stewart-Haas Racing pilot from 15th in the championship standings to 27th.

● Gragson’s racing career began on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway campus, specifically at The Bullring located just outside turns one and two of the 1.5-mile oval. The Bullring is a .375-mile asphalt oval that hosts a variety of racing series, from Bandoleros and Legend Cars to Late Models, the NASCAR Southwest Series and the ARCA Menards Series West. It was in Bandoleros – a small, spec-series racecar that puts out 30 horsepower via a Briggs & Stratton 570cc Vanguard engine – where a 13-year-old Gragson made his first laps on his road to the NASCAR Cup Series.

● With only 41 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Gragson is still relatively new to the Cup Series, but he is not new to NASCAR. Gragson spent 2015 and 2016 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, known today as the ARCA Menards Series. He then ran the full NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule in 2017 and 2018 before graduating to the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In four fulltime seasons (2019-2022) in the stepping-stone division to the elite Cup Series, Gragson won 13 races and finished among the top-10 in points each year, earning the series’ most popular driver award in his final season. Gragson made it to the Championship 4 twice, finishing third in 2021 and second in 2022 with a series-high eight victories.

● Gragson won twice in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in October 2017 and Kansas Speedway in May 2018 – and finished second in the 2018 championship, where he picked up the Truck Series’ most popular driver award. Those Truck Series results were a continuation of the kind of talent Gragson showcased in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Gragson raced in this developmental league, regionally split into two divisions – K&N Pro Series East and K&N Pro Series West – for two years (2015-2016), winning six races between the two entities and narrowly missing out on the 2015 West title by a scant seven points, but handily securing the rookie-of-the-year title.

● The Las Vegas 400 will mark Gragson’s third career NASCAR Cup Series start at Las Vegas. Gragson earned a solid 11th-place finish in October 2022 during his Las Vegas Cup Series debut when he drove for Hendrick Motorsports in place of the injured Alex Bowman. In Gragson’s return to Las Vegas last March, he finished 30th driving for LEGACY MOTOR CLUB.

● In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Gragson proved to be a strong bet at Las Vegas. In eight career Xfinity Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Gragson never finished worse than sixth. In fact, his sixth-place drive in September 2019 – which came in just his second Xfinity Series start at Las Vegas – was his only finish outside of the top-five. Even though Gragson never won an Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas, he finished second three times (September 2020, March and October 2022). And with two other third-place results, Gragson’s average Xfinity Series finish at Las Vegas is a stout 3.4 with 142 total laps led.

● Gragson has also made three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts at Las Vegas with a best finish of 12th in March 2018. Gragson led laps in each Truck Series race he competed in at Las Vegas, pacing the field for 12 laps in September 2017, another 12 laps in March 2018, and then 33 laps in September 2018.

● Joining Gragson at Las Vegas is Fanttik, the trailblazing and award-winning brand in the automotive accessories industry. After making its debut at Las Vegas with Gragson, Fanttik will return as a primary sponsor with Gragson’s Stewart-Haas teammate in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Cole Custer. The reigning Xfinity Series champion will wheel the No. 00 Fanttik Ford Mustang in the May 25 Xfinity Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson, Driver of the No. 10 Fanttik Ford Mustang

What does it mean to race in your hometown of Las Vegas?

“It’s exciting to go back to Vegas. It feels different. For me, it’s always been special and I feel like it’s a different special because it’s home for me. I probably don’t get excited about the things that other people who aren’t from there get excited about just because it’s normal, but I get excited just because I get a ton of support from the hometown crowd and a lot of friends and family come out to the race. I try to go out there a couple of days ahead of time and spend time with my friends and family before it’s time to get to work. And I enjoy the Vegas track, regardless of it being in Vegas, and have always run well there, which is a good thing. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get to our true test of where we’re at in speed on the kind of track that we’re going to race on the majority of the year.”

Will Las Vegas be the first true test of where teams stack up in relation to one another?

“Yeah, definitely Vegas is our first true test of where we stack up. A majority of the schedule is mile-and-a-halves, short tracks, you’ve got Vegas and Phoenix, those two especially. But Vegas will be our first test as to where we’re at as a company, speed-wise.”

You’ve literally grown up at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex, beginning with Bandoleros at the Bullring to today at the 1.5-mile oval. What’s it been like to have so many career moments at your hometown track?

“It’s special. Outside of turns one and two is the Bullring. It’s a three-eighths-mile short track. That’s where I ran my first-ever racecar, a Bandolero, when I was 13 years old. I kind of got a late start, but I always remember pulling into the pits and being at that track where you can see the banking on the big track not far away, just across the street, on the other side of the parking lot. That was always the goal, to get any kind of laps on the big track, whether it be in the NASCAR Experience ride-along cars, I always thought that would be cool to do one day. And then to actually be able to race a real stock car around there with a race team, getting over there in the Truck Series. Cut my teeth in Bandoleros, Legend Cars, Late Models, ran all those things at the Bullring. I had a lot of wins and a lot of good memories there, and to be at the big track now, it’s something I’d always dreamed of when I first started, and now it’s a reality, so it’s very special.”

You’re competing in the NASCAR Cup Series after successfully climbing the NASCAR ladder. What was it like racing in all the different feeder series on the way to your ultimate goal of racing in Cup?

“I love the feeder series up into the top-three series of NASCAR. You’ve got the K&N Series back in the day, and then the ARCA Series, racing Super Late Models, that’s what we grew up doing, Legend Cars, Bandoleros. Every next step was always what I was eyeing. If I’m in Bandoleros, I’m eyeing to get to a Legend Car one day, hopefully. Then you get to a Legend Car and you’re like, ‘Man, I’m good at this,’ and then you start winning in that and you feel good and look at Super Late Models or K&N and start winning in that. I kind of got a late start compared to most guys. I started when I was 13 years old where they start in karts when they’re 4, 5, 6 years old. So having the support from friends and family and my team, and then my own drive, as well, I was always driven to be the best that I could be. Those days, I miss them, they’re fun. Those are the real fun days because you’re just going and racing and having fun with your team.”

What are you most looking forward to this year?

“I’ve yet to be at a lot of the tracks in a Cup car. None of the guys have been at Iowa in a Cup car. Most have not been at Indy on the oval. I’ve never been to Bristol in a Cup car. We’ve won a couple races in an Xfinity car there. It’s a fun racetrack and I’m excited for that. The Brickyard on the oval, I ran one race, finished third in 2019 in the Xfinity race. That’s it. And then Iowa is one of my favorite tracks ever. I absolutely love that place. It’s an incredible racetrack, the way it’s shaped, and it just puts on some good two- and three-wide racing that’s really exciting for the fans. I’m excited for all of them, all the new changes on the schedule, and I’m just grateful to be back.”

What are your long-term career goals?

“I just want to win races. I love winning races. I love that feeling of getting out after a long day behind the wheel, being able to look up at the crowd and they’re all cheering you on. You’re not looking at somebody else getting cheered on – that’s the worst. I like winning races, I want to be a winner in the Cup Series and I want to have multiple wins.”

Your team owner, Tony Stewart, said that you’ve helped bring a new energy to the shop this year. Was Stewart-Haas Racing a place where you immediately felt comfortable?

“It’s been a lot of fun to get to know everyone and every day is something new. There are over 300 employees at Stewart-Haas. It’s a big organization and every day you’re meeting somebody new and getting to know them. I’ve been going to lunch with a lot of the guys and I’ve just been having a lot of quality time with them. It’s a great organization. It’s nice, and we have everything under one roof – pit stop practice, a gym to go work out, our trainer is there – everything that we need, other than the simulator at Ford. I think we have to make an 11-minute drive down to Ford, so it’s not far at all. It’s been really good. I’ve been spending pretty much from 7 a.m. until 4 or 5 at night every day there at the shop, and I’m enjoying my time a lot. I really fit in with the atmosphere. There’s a lot of energy in the air at Stewart-Haas.”

What makes Stewart-Haas feel like home for you?

“It’s a good group of people. It’s great to be wanted and appreciated, and the atmosphere over there, there are just a lot of good people who enjoy coming to work every day. It’s a great work environment. I know when I wake up in the morning, I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t wait to go see everybody at the shop today and go work alongside them and continue to develop these relationships.’ It’s just a place that suits me.”

You’ve driven for Kyle Busch in the Truck Series, Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the Xfinity Series, and now Tony Stewart in the Cup Series. That’s an all-star lineup of NASCAR talent and experience. Does that bring added pressure?

“It’s really just about the desire and the want to succeed. There are a lot of people who are a part of this. No matter who the driver is, there are hundreds of people behind those drivers who allow us to go race, and everybody in those race shops, everybody who supports them from a close relationship standpoint – management, logistics – there’s a lot that goes into it. Yeah, the drivers get all the credit, but I put a lot of pressure on myself at the end of the day to be successful for all those people who work hard to give us the opportunity to go race. For us drivers, it’s a privilege to be able to go out there and race, and I’ve regained my love for this sport, where I might’ve lost appreciation over the past handful of years than what I had as a kid. I’ve rediscovered that love for racing, and I’m just grateful to be back and get to work.”

How do you balance all that you’ve learned in the last seven months with still being yourself?

“There’s a balance to that, obviously, and that’s one of the things that I’ve been working on – just balancing life, and how I balance work life from my time to relax. Everything is about balance, no matter what it is. Being a leader of a race team is about knowing how my words influence others, but it’s also about my body language and just being more self-aware. That’s been a big part of finding myself in this process. It’s not always going be perfect and I’m not perfect, by any means, but I continue to try and learn and grow each and every day to become better than I was yesterday.”

No. 10 Fanttik Team Roster

Primary Team Members

Driver: Noah Gragson

Hometown: Las Vegas

Crew Chief: Drew Blickensderfer

Hometown: Decatur, Illinois

Car Chief: Jerry Cook

Hometown: Toledo, Ohio

Engineer: James Kimbrough

Hometown: Pensacola, Florida

Spotter: Andy Houston

Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina

Over-The-Wall Members

Front Tire Changer: Ryan Mulder

Hometown: Sioux Center, Iowa

Rear Tire Changer: Trevor White

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Tire Carrier: Tyler Bullard

Hometown: King, North Carolina

Jack Man: Sean Cotten

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Fuel Man: James “Ace” Keener

Hometown: Fortuna, California

Road Crew Members

Mechanic: Chris Trickett

Hometown: Grafton, West Virginia

Mechanic: Beau Whitley

Hometown: Carmel, Indiana

Tire Specialist: Jacob Cooksey

Hometown: Westbrookville, New York

Engine Tuner: Matt Moeller

Hometown: Monroe, New York

Transporter Co-Driver: John Casper

Hometown: Salisbury, North Carolina

Transporter Co-Driver: Matt Murphy

Hometown: Augusta, Georgia

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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