• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Countdown to the Clash: Noah Gragson joins another stellar ownership group in 2023

ByBrenden Martin

Dec 25, 2022
Noah Gragson Phoenix

Photo courtesy of Meg Oliphant | Getty Images

Petty GMS Motorsports took considerable strides in 2022, expanding to two full-time entries in the NASCAR Cup Series thanks to a partnership between Richard Petty Motorsports and GMS Racing. On top of the improvements Erik Jones had in the No. 43 car, the team reintroduced the No. 42 car to the fold, a number that has a long history in the Petty family.

Ty Dillon ran in the No. 42 car last season, but only amassed a single top-10 finish in the Bristol Dirt Race, a surface he is more familiar with than other drivers. His struggles led to the team announcing it would part ways with him after the season’s end.

Enter Noah Gragson, who will take the reins of the No. 42 car for his first full-time season in 2023. Gragson was a long-time candidate to make the jump to the Cup Series, especially after a dominant 2022 NASCAR Xfinity season that saw him in the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway last month.

Gragson earned eight of his 13 career Xfinity Series wins in 2022, more than any other driver last season. He fought to the bitter end with rival No. 54 driver Ty Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing, who held on to win the title along with his seven race victories. Both Gibbs and Gragson will move to Cup next season, making the two prime contenders for Rookie of the Year. Gibbs, however, will be in more competitive equipment at JGR.

The 24-year-old Gragson will be one of the youngest drivers in the field, but his resume in NASCAR is nearly unmatched and he has worked with the biggest names in the sport in his young career.

Gragson ran his first full Camping World Truck Series season in 2017 with Kyle Busch Motorsports whom with he won his first race at Martinsville Speedway and won at Kansas Speedway the following season.

In 2018, Gragson finished second in the points standings only behind Brett Moffitt. His full-time Xfinity career ended in the same bitter fashion, finishing second in the championship to Gibbs.

Gragson has spent the last four seasons (2019-2022) in the Xfinity Series where he jumped from one household-name team owner to another, joining JR Motorsports.

The ownership support will only get bigger for Gragson, which is a feat given that his last team owner holds the surname of Earnhardt. Not only will Gragson have seven-time series champion Richard Petty in his corner, but the team announced during Championship Weekend in November that another seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, will have an ownership stake in the team and run a few races in 2023 — including the Daytona 500.

Gragson spoke on the feeling of getting to race for both Petty and Johnson, stating how cool of a feeling it is and that he had no clue Johnson would tag along when he first signed with Petty GMS in August.

While 2023 will be Gragson’s first full-time season in Cup, he already has a lot of experience in the Next Gen car that was introduced last year. He ran 18 of the 36 points races last year with a variety of teams such as Beard Motorsports — where he ran the first three superspeedway races — and Hendrick Motorsports as a fill-in for Alex Bowman, who suffered a concussion in a wreck at Texas Motor Speedway.

Most of Gragson’s 2022 Cup races were run with Kaulig Racing in the No. 16 car that he split time with AJ Allmendinger and Daniel Hemric. Gragson’s best finish in Cup was 11th at his hometown track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in the No. 48 car for Hendrick which gave him experience in one of, if not, the most competitive equipment at NASCAR’s highest level.

In just six years of full-time racing starting in trucks, Gragson has been a lead racer for owners like Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick to name a few. He will get to add Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson to an already-stacked list of owners in 2023 in what looks to be the beginning of a long tenure for Gragson in the Cup Series.