Denny Hamlin Believes Noah Gragson Needs SHR’s “Resurgence” to Save His Uncertain NASCAR Future

Published 02/12/2024, 12:13 PM EST

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Noah Gragson faced a turbulent year last season, with difficulties stacking up against him on the racetrack. He battled many storms but is looking forward to regaining his name in the game in 2024. Yet his journey is going to be thorny, as observed by Denny Hamlin.

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Noah Gragson was inducted by Stewart-Haas Racing into their fold last year in December. This announcement came after two skilled drivers left the team: Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola. SHR is planning to stamp its name on the winning list this year with Gragson. However, Hamlin believes Gragson has a long way to go to prove himself.

Denny Hamlin thinks Gragson’s, and SHR’s fates are interlinked

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When the organization is top-notch, its employees will also perform well. Ultimately, both rely on each other to survive and thrive. That is the point Denny Hamlin made on an episode of his podcast ‘Actions Detrimental’. Both Hamlin and Jared Allen predicted possible outcomes for drivers in the 2024 season. When they touched the Noah topic, both seemed to run out of words to say.

Hamlin said, “I know he’s worked really really hard, he’s super motivated. What will Stewart Haas do this year? Like do they have a resurgence, do they stay the same? I don’t think they get worse.”

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Then Hamlin passed a verdict for Gragson, “It’s tough, but I’ll probably say worse, but it’s close.”

But then Hamlin made a bold statement about the possibility of Gragson winning at Daytona, stating, “I mean, he could win the Daytona 500. I mean, realistically speaking, nothing is a shock in the 500, anymore, right?” He mentioned last year’s Daytona winners- Austin Cindric, William McDowell, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. They were nowhere close to his season-long predictions.

Hamlin believes that Noah can surprise people. It would not be a surprise if he ends up among the top playoff contenders. But his performance is still reliant on his team’s rise from the shadows. “It’s just kind of dependant on the organization and whether they take the step, which I think with their new car, they probably should, or would.”

With what Hamlin said about Gragson’s racing, last year was a tough one for the latter. Gragson got a concussion and fought with Ross Chastain at Kansas Speedway. Then his misfortunes followed him to New Hampshire at the Cup Crayon 301 event. There he blew a brake rotor on lap 271, leading to a round of pit stops.

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But that was not all of Gragson’s challenges. Last year he was suspended by his team following an insensitive action on social media.

Noah Gragson hoping for redemption after social media debacle

Gragson’s fate spiraled downward after he sent racing fans raging on social media, which came after he apparently liked a circulating meme of George Floyd. Hence, Gragson came under fire for his insensitive actions.

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He was suspended first by his team, Legacy Motor Club, and then by NASCAR in August. Gragson subsequently apologized for his crude actions.

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However, an apology was not going to get him through to the 2024 races. Gragson sought professional help and underwent rigorous training for five months. Then he got into SHR, and Tony Stewart proclaimed his confidence in him.

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Gragson has won 13 races in the Xfinity Series and was the 2022 championship runner-up. He did not fare well at the Clash race this year, finishing 20th. We will see how far he has evolved after last year’s problems, and whether SHR will help his redemption in 2024.

Why Noah Gragson Is the Right Pick for Tony Stewart’s Desperate SHR Image Refresh

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Written by:

Sumedha Mukherjee

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Sumedha Mukherjee is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports who is known for her in-depth track analysis as well as her lifestyle coverage of Cup drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Inspired by the Kiwi's journey so far, Sumedha has also written pieces on Shane Van Gisbergen, predicting how the Supercars Champion would do in the new and unfamiliar American setting. Pairing her research skills with her vast experience as a writer, Sumedha creates stories her readers can easily get lost in.
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad

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