Noah Gragson relishes the opportunity to Cup race with Petty GMS

Noah Gragson relishes the opportunity to Cup race with Petty GMS
Lee Spencer

STATESVILLE, N.C.—Petty GMS owner Maury Gallagher is gambling on Noah Gragson finding success on the NASCAR Cup tour next season.

On Wednesday, when the team announced that Gragson will drive the No. 42 GMS Chevrolet in 2023, the 24-year-old Las Vegas native said he welcomed the challenge.

“It’s a bit surreal,” Gragson said. “I’ve had to take a few hours just to look around and take in the moment. It goes fast. It’s a big opportunity for a young guy like myself to come into PettyGMS. I just started racing 10 years ago. If you had told me when I was racing Bandoleros that I would be driving for Richard Petty one day, I know it’s kind of cliche, but I would have told you, you were full of (crap). But by working hard, that dream starts to become a reality.

“I always told myself if I could race cars for a living, I’d be happy. But with a name like Petty—and all the history they have behind the family—it’s truly a privilege to be able to carry that name and big shoes to fill. But I don't think anything is out of reach. We’re going to drive our tails off.”

Gallagher created GMS in 2012 as a vehicle for his son Spencer’s racing activities. The past decade GMS has competed in the Camping World Truck Series and from 2016 to 2019 on the Xfinity tour. GMS won its first truck title with Johnny Sauter in 2016 and added a second championship with Sheldon Creed in 2020. The company currently fields trucks for Grant Enfinger, Tate Fogleman and Jack Wood.

Gallagher expanded his GMS effort to include Cup at the end of last year. He partnered with Richard Petty Motorsports and rebranded as Petty GMS Racing for the 2022 season. The company announced Ty Dillon as its first driver last October and acquired Erik Jones as a piece of the Petty puzzle.

“Noah has shown tremendous talent throughout his career,” said Petty GMS Owner Maury Gallagher. “I’ve watched Noah from a young age competing on the West Coast to now competing at NASCAR’s top level and he’s shown the commitment, desire and ability to win at every level.

“As we move into our second year of competition in the Cup Series, Noah is a great fit for our organization and I think with Erik and his experience, the two will prove to be contenders each week.” 

Jones is currently 14th in the Cup standings. GMS announced on August 30th that Jones had extended his contract. Dillon, who is 30th in points, announced on July 15th that he would not be returning to the team in 2023.

When GMS president Mike Beam discovered Gragson was available, he didn’t hesitate.

“We’ve got to fast-track this,” Beam added. “Five years from now we want to be legitimate contenders. We looked at Cup guys, but I wanted to get someone young. Someone whose hair is on fire. Someone we’ll have to rein back. So, of course, Noah went to the top of the list.

“He’s on the gas, that’s what we want.”

Gragson started his NASCAR career in the K&N Pro Series West tour in 2015. He finished second that year and third in 2016 before graduating to the Camping World Truck Series with Kyle Busch full-time in 2017. Gragson won at Martinsville in his 22nd career truck start. He finished second in the truck standing in 2018 before moving up to the Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports in 2019.

For the last four seasons, Gragson has won eight Xfinity Series races in the No. 9 Chevrolet. He’s advanced to the Playoffs each season and to the Championship round the last two years. His best result was third in the standings in 2021.

Gragson is currently fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings. It was his third victory this season—where he battled side-by-side with Ty Gibbs to the finish on July 23rd at Pocono Raceway—that sold Beam on Gragson.

“When Noah won that race at Pocono, I told Maury, “That’s the guy right there,’” said GMS president Mike Beam. “That was a good, clean finish. He and Ty Gibbs ran well--clean race. The guy got out of his car and threw up…I said, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy I want.”

For the last two seasons, he has tested the Cup waters. This year, Gragson has run nine Cup events. His best result was 18th at Kansas Speedway with Kaulig Racing.

On Sunday at Michigan, Gragson offered a glimmer of what he was capable of accomplishing on stock car’s biggest stage.

“It’s rewarding,” Gragson said. “It’s everything you ever dream of. We wrecked out but we were running in the top five most of the second stage. I told the guys I was sorry I wrecked, but it was a real cool opportunity to run in the top five—legit—and not cycle through on fuel strategy. We legit drove up to the top five and that comes with a lot of hard work.

“You have to work really hard to ensure to do it again and again and again. At the same time, I think that’s motivating to myself. It’s a reminder that, ‘Hey, you can actually do that. You can go up there and compete with those guys.' Moments like that keep you going in the sport.”

Gragson has been fortunate to align himself with powerhouse organizations throughout his young NASCAR career whether he was driving for Kyle Busch or Dale Earnhardt Jr. While Petty GMS is still a relatively new Cup operation, Gragson is looking forward to the challenge of taking the organization to the next level.

“This is a team of racers,” Gragson said. “They’re really eager to get me behind the wheel of a car. We’ve been working hard for it and I really hope to grow my relationship with Mike and Maury. The atmosphere feels a lot like JRM, where I’ve been the last four years. I feel like I can perform my best in an atmosphere like that where it’s a little laid back. They still have high standards but they allow everyone to do their jobs and do it at the best of their ability.

“They’re growing and I’m excited to see what we can do together. I really feel like I can make a home here at GMS and I’m ready to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Featured Video

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Twitter