Defending Texas Roadhouse 200 Winner Noah Gragson Adjusting to Playoff Pressure Ahead of Return to Martinsville
Monday September 24, 2018
One year after his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions, Noah Gragson is eyeing a second grandfather clock trophy in this year’s edition of the race on October 27.
This year is different for the youngster, though, as the added pressure of being a part of the NASCAR Playoffs looms.
“Having that grandfather clock gives me a lot of motivation going into the future of my career and I feel like I’m a much more experience driver than last fall,” Gragson said. “But, this is the Playoffs, this is when the racing really starts.”
The Playoffs affect every encounter on the track, Gragson said, not because of ramifications that afternoon, but also because of ramifications down the road in the pressure-packed close to the season. A physical move last year was just a move to win, he said. Now, it could affect his ability to seal a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Last year I was doing whatever I could to win the race, even if that meant I had to rough somebody up to win the race. Luckily, I didn’t have to do that. I was able to pass Matt Crafton on the outside clean for the win,” Gragson said. “It’s different now. You have a lot more consequences when you’re in the Playoffs. If you race a guy hard, he’s going to remember that with 10 to go at Homestead. Sometimes roughing somebody up is the right move, but you have to know that other times it can come back to bite you.”
That game of chess is made a little easier, Gragson said, thanks to the confidence he has from his win at Martinsville a year ago.
“Martinsville sticks out in my mind as a place I can get it done,” Gragson said. “It’s definitely a confidence booster going in and seeing ads for the race coming up at Martinsville with me in them. That’s really cool to see and gets me pumped up. From the on-track performance side we ran there earlier in the season and working with a different crew chief this year…I feel like that has been our worst track so far. It was a little bit of a struggle but we’re working hard to keep getting better as a team.”
A major concern for all of the Playoff drivers, Gragson noted, is the unpredictability of results at Martinsville.
“Last year, we weren’t in the playoffs and I was really able to shake up the standings when I won at Martinsville,” Gragson said. “Who knows, someone might shake it up for us this year. There’s been a lot of first-time winners at Martinsville.”
The First Data 500 weekend is October 26-28.
Advance ticket prices for the First Data 500 begin at just $46 with youth tickets for fans 17-and-under costing just $25 regardless of location.
Youth 17-and-under will be admitted free to the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race as well as Friday’s practice day.
The weekend starts with a practice day for the truck series on Friday. On Saturday, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is in action with the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions. Following the race the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will qualify for Sunday’s First Data 500.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1877RACETIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.