Noah Gragson Talks Head Games With Ty Gibbs & Ross Chastain’s Punching Power

Noah Gragson before race.

Getty Noah Gragson walks out during driver introductions.

Noah Gragson had a memorable 2023 season for all the wrong reasons, getting punched in the face by Ross Chastain, later getting suspended by NASCAR for a racially insensitive social media post, and subsequently losing his ride at Legacy Motor Club. 

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver, whose two top-10 finishes in the first five races of 2024 are more than he achieved in all of his previous 39 Cup Series starts, sat down for an interview before the March 24 race at Circuit of the Americas and talked about a variety of topics, including handling criticism, the surprising words he told Chastain after last year’s punch, and why his views on rivalries, including his own with Ty Gibbs, are music to NASCAR’s ears.

Noah Gragson Admits to Reducing Time Online

Noah Gragson heard the comments last year. There were plenty of them.

Josh Berry said his SHR teammate was the victim of the “piling on” mentality in 2023 and he was dragged through the mud. When asked about it, the 25-year-old said the experience changed his online behavior and provided motivation for him. 

“I still do read comments every once in a while, but in the past, would read a lot of them, a lot more of them,” Gragson admitted. “Definitely, yeah, they do want to pile on, but that’s just more fuel for the fire to go out and improve yourself. And to keep on working hard and become the best version of myself that I can become.”

Noah Gragson Talks About Ross Chastain’s Punching Power

Unfortunately, Noah Gragson’s online activity wasn’t the only reason he made headlines in 2023. His dust-up with Ross Chastain was the other. What did he learn from that incident?

“I was still getting used to the different aero positions in the car and getting put in bad aero spots, and he put it on my door and I stayed in the gas, not knowing,” Gragson said. “And I’m like, man, I’m just kind of over it like — runs over everyone. 

“Ross and I worked out together last year. So like you’re gonna see these guys. Whether it be that you see them 20 times a weekend and you’re in the same room with them, so it’s hard to hold grudges unless you just disappear. With Ross, I was just over it and let my frustration out but at the same time I called him the next day, and I was like, ‘Hey, nice connection. Like you threw a good one.’ 

“But I told him that security guard wasn’t there, I was coming and I wasn’t going to stop, dude. And, we’re all good the next day. We tested a micro-winged sprint car at Millbridge Speedway in North Carolina the next night. So it wasn’t too big of a deal.”

Understands Rivalries Are Part of Show

While Gragson having beef with Chastain was a big story in 2023, it wasn’t anything new for him. He’s had conflicts and rivalries with others in the past, including the battle with Ty Gibbs for the Xfinity Series championship the year before. The SHR driver unexpectedly brought up that feud with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver when asked about his opinions on rivalries, something NASCAR President Steve Phelps has encouraged drivers to embrace early in 2024 because the drama is good for the sport.  

“I think that’s what makes this sport is rivalries, in my opinion,” he said. “And sometimes you play it up for the camera. It is a race, but it’s also better when you make it a show, right? 

“So I would say going through a little bit of a rivalry with Ty Gibbs, it was a lot of head games throughout the season racing for a championship. Ty and I used to be buddies. We’re buddies again now but when you’re racing somebody for a championship, you’re doing everything possible to benefit yourself.”

It’s a different Noah Gragson than the one fans saw in 2023, both on and off the track. It’s already translated into success and if things continue trending in this same direction, the No. 10 car will be surprising a lot of folks by the end of the year.

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