Noah Gragson entered the 2019 Indiana 250 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with zero experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he had no fear during the race weekend at the 2.5-mile track in Speedway, Ind.
Gragson qualified 13th, but he finished fourth and 10th in the first two respective stages. At race’s end, he finished third in his first series start at the track.
“This is the last NASCAR track [up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series level] that I haven’t been to and made laps at,” Gragson said after the race. “Overall, I’m really excited, it was a really exciting day, and the atmosphere is so awesome, to see all the fans out here with so much history at this really exciting track.
Dream come true to race here at Indy. Nothing is better than this. Thank you to everyone who allows me to be living my dream! pic.twitter.com/4cqBuuVePw
— Noah Gragson (@NoahGragson) September 7, 2019
“Overall, I’m really thankful to be here racing in the Xfinity Series,” he added. “It’s been my dream to race here. I came to the Indy 500 in 2009. Since then, I’ve thought it would be really cool to come back and race here. It’s a dream come true. To be fast and finish in the top three, it means a lot to me.”
Despite being a rookie, Gragson learned quickly, although he dealt with a learning curve.
“It’s definitely different,” he said. “I’ve never raced with the aeroducts and the restrictor plate deal, so I think we learned a lot today as a race team. I learned a lot as a driver. A lot of this weekend, I kind of struggled, not having been here before, so no experience. That was challenging to start. I feel bad for my guys, because I don’t think I was up to par as a driver. I learned throughout the race, got better and we ended third. We’re all super thankful for everyone at JR Motorsports.”
.Gragson was thankful for the podium finish, well aware of the hard work from his JR Motorsports team.
“I know they’ve been putting in the hard work with long hours especially during the week,” he said. “Then during the weekend, they’re gone as well. We’ve been taking from their families, their wives, their kids. Overall, our speed is starting to show. We keep moving forward, working hard and we’ll be at the shop tomorrow morning, Sunday, at 7 a.m. to get ready for [Las] Vegas [Motor Speedway].”
In addition to Gragson, JR Motorsports drivers Justin Allgaier and Jeb Burton finished second and fourth, respectively. Gragson said he was glad the organization has found speed, but he plans on staying in the moment, not looking at the playoffs which begin after the Xfinity race at Las Vegas.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” he said. “I need to stay grounded and keep working hard with my team. Obviously, we want to end up in victory lane. We’re going to keep working until we get there.”
Gragson hails from Las Vegas, and the 21-year-old thoroughly plans to enjoy returning to his roots next weekend.
“I get to sleep in my bed at my parent’s house,” he said. “I get to eat at all my favorite restaurants. It feels weird to be going back there. I’m not staying in a hotel, but I stay in a hotel every other weekend. I know a lot of people who come out to the racetrack.
“The atmosphere there is awesome with the neon garage, how that’s all laid out. It’s really fan-friendly, so they get a lot of fans out to the racetrack. I like that track, I had a lot of fun there earlier this year. We finished third, and I was right up against the fence ripping the fence. Having all my family and friends out there, it means a lot to myself. It’s definitely extra motivation with them cheering me on.”
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