Noah Gragson couldn’t have asked for a better debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
OK, maybe one spot better.
Although he was disappointed he couldn’t wrestle away the win Friday night at Richmond (Va.) Raceway from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Christopher Bell, Gragson’s smooth series debut turned a lot of heads.
Gragson, 19, had an incident-free weekend, was fast in practice, qualified 11th and contended for the win – all in his first series race.
“I still have a lot of work to do. I am not in Victory Lane. I have to keep on learning and getting better,” Gragson said after the race. “It means nothing as far as my confidence because I am not the one standing in Victory Lane right now.
“I’m always striving to get better and learn. Great group here at Joe Gibbs Racing – bringing really fast Toyotas to the track. I am so fortunate and thankful to work with such a great group
“It’s definitely a privilege and an honor.”
Gragson said the end of the race battle with Bell “was tough” because he was racing a teammate combined with making his first impression in the series.
“There at the end never really racing one of these Xfinity cars it was my first time so not knowing this track, not knowing how the tires would wear luckily I did some preparation before coming to this race track so I kind of have a little idea,” he said.
“I just tried to stay disciplined. You’re slipping and sliding and you’re all over the place chasing it and it’s real greasy out there. That was the biggest thing was just staying disciplined.”
Gragson is in his second full-time season in the Camping World Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports. He picked up his first series victory last fall at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Gragson is running three consecutive Xfinity races this month in the No. 18 Toyota – he’ll do Talladega next weekend and then Dover the following week. At Dover, Gragson will have double duty, competing in both the Truck and Xfinity races.
“I’ve come a long way here in the past year. I still have a long way to go. Definitely always thought I had the drive and the fight in me,” Gragson said.
“Just learning from everybody that I’ve really been around whether it’s off the race track at KBM or Joe Gibbs Racing or if it’s on the race track following guys like (Elliott Sadler).”