Noah Gragson’s time in the Xfinity Series will come to an end after the 2022 season finale at Phoenix Raceway. He will move up to the Cup Series in what will be a very emotional departure from JR Motorsports.
Gragson provided some insight into his preparation for the big change during a post-win press conference at Kansas Speedway on September 10. He explained that he is embracing every moment of the 2022 Xfinity Series season, which has included five trips to Victory Lane. He then detailed exactly how much of a family atmosphere exists inside the Mooresville shop.
“I think just all the people and Kelley [Earnhardt-Miller] and Dale [Earnhardt Jr.], LW… Ryan Pemberton is a big part of our company and the success that we’ve had, still, even today,” an emotional Gragson said. “Joe Mattes, Kristen [Bauer], everybody who is involved, it takes everyone and I think we have a great group of people.
“I really don’t want it to change. And I’ve been thinking over these last two or three weeks, it’s coming to an end. And it’s bittersweet because I’m in love with everybody at JR Motorsports. I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had in my racing career. And I don’t want it to ever stop, but, you know, things move on.”
Gragson Can Help Accomplish a Major Feat
The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro has a lot of goals that he wants to check off in his final full-time Xfinity Series season. Continuing to set career-highs is among this group, as is returning to the championship four.
Of course, capturing the first title of his career is the biggest goal, but Gragson also wants to take care of some important business for Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, who is a co-owner of JR Motorsports.
Hendrick Motors, this is their 499th win,” Gragson continued. “And I called Mr. Hendrick the day before we announced the Petty GMs deal and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this deal.’ And he said — his words to me of advice and whatnot — at the time, he’s like, ‘We have 495 wins. We want to get 500 this year.’ And that’s what’s kind of given me an extra boost of confidence.
“And he said, ‘I think you could be the guy to get our 500th win for the motor program.’ That’d be really special to me if we can, so [I] want to get that for him.”
Gragson Has Multiple Races Remaining
Gragson may be nearing the end of his tenure in the Xfinity Series, but he still has time remaining with JR Motorsports. He still has to close out the regular season before taking on the three rounds of the playoffs.
There are eight races remaining in the 2022 Xfinity Series season. The regular-season finale takes place at Bristol Motor Speedway, and it is a track that Gragson does not expect to conquer. He acknowledged during his press conference that he has struggled on the short track.
Texas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway all hold different spots in Gragson’s mind. He knows that he can contend for the wins at these tracks based on his previous performances, so there is a solid opportunity for him to get that 500th win for the Hendrick engine shop.
Whether or not Gragson achieves this goal remains to be seen. For now, he will just focus on closing out his final full-time season on a high note and embracing the time he has remaining with JR Motorsports.
“Enjoy every single second. I have a bit,” Gragson said. “Don’t want to take anything for granted for the rest of the year. Because like that, we’re going to be in Phoenix. Just appreciate the moment because I really am thankful for where I’m at and the people working so hard at JR Motorsports and I don’t want it to end.”