Noah Gragson thought he sped on pit road during the final green flag pit stop; He didn’t know who the leader was after that
Noah Gragson beat the best of the best at Kansas Speedway. If Kyle Busch wins one more Truck Series event, he’ll be tied for the most all-time wins in the series.
But, at Kansas Speedway, the rookie pulled it off. Noah Gragson took the pole position then battled for the win against Stewart Friesen and Kyle Busch.
“This has been a dream of mine to be back in victory lane,” Noah Gragson says from the Kansas Speedway media center.
“Rudy Fugle, he’s changed me as a driver this year. He’s made me better as a person. Not only on the track but off the track too.”
“Just trying to better myself, no matter what I’m doing. I feel like I’ve changed who I am, this year. Not in a bad way. Just more looking for the positives and trying to get the most out of myself.”
Noah Gragson was the first truck to pit lane during the final green flag pit cycle. He took 4 tires, others took two and six didn’t pit at all.
“I thought I sped. I was trying to dial some rear brake into it. My first pit stop, I got in there, I locked up the tires and got a little sideways.”
“I tried dialing more rear brake which would help me get straighter into the pit box and help it turn back to the right. You gotta pump the brake to twist the brake bias.”
“I saw my tachometer… There was a blink of an eye where I — I normally run one red light and I was running two red lights. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s not good.’ ”
“In the back of my head, ‘Oh man, I hope they don’t catch me for speeding.’ And they didn’t. Just a hell of a call by my crew chief Rudy Fugle. And my pit crew. We lost spots pretty much every race before this [on pit road]. They did their jobs.”
Noah Gragson found himself behind Kyle Busch, Stewart Friesen and the 6 other cars that didn’t pit. He was the fastest car on the track but he had some work to do in the closing laps of the race.
“They kept telling me, the #21 car is the leader. But, he’s running out. I passed the #21 and they said the #52 and the #4 are running 1st and 2nd. Shoot!”
“They said I’m a half second faster than them. Alright, I think I can run them down. I ran those two guys down, passed Kyle and then I passed the #52. I’m like, ‘Hell ya, I’m the leader. It’s game over.’ ”
“They said, ‘Ok, you’re in 2nd right now to the #13.”
“How many leaders are their gonna be!”
“They just kept me focused. I got A-D-D and I’m bouncing all over the walls. I can barely sit still for longer than 25 seconds.”
Noah Gragson comes from a short track background, just like any racer who first joins the ranks. He said last year he wasn’t prepared for these longer races. But, with a year under his belt, he has a better understanding of these races, specifically on the 1.5-mile tracks which were foreign to help before last year.
“This year, it’s different coming into these races. I know what I need to do. I know what I need to feel like in practice to be good during the race. It’s all about getting that knowledge. Learning from my mistakes last year and just trying to capitalize on all that this year.”