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Veteran NASCAR Journalist Gambles His Hopes on Noah Gragson As He Joins SHR

Published 12/13/2023, 11:25 PM EST

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Noah Gragson is back in the saddle with the Stewart-Haas Racing team, stirring up excitement in the Cup Series. The team had a couple of seats up for grabs, with Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola bowing out. While Josh Berry stepped into Harvick’s shoes earlier, the spotlight has recently shifted to Gragson, who’s set to steer the No. 10 Ford. Just hours ago, the SHR made an announcement, and the news broke, adding a fresh chapter to Gragson’s journey.

Previously at Legacy Motor Sport, Noah Gragson didn’t just sit on his laurels during the past five months; he was out there, honing his skills in a slew of smaller events. Now, he’s got a golden opportunity to make a splash with Tony Stewart’s team—a second chance that’s nothing short of a comeback story. Bob Pockrass, the well-known voice from Fox Sports, recently weighed in on this development. He pondered whether bringing Noah Gragson on board was a stroke of genius for the team and what it meant for Gragson’s career. However, his answer is: Only time will tell.

Bob Pockrass weighs in on the conversation about SHR’s latest acquisition, Noah Gragson

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Rewind to August, and we can remember Gragson was in hot water with Jimmie Johnson‘s Legacy Motor Club. He stirred the pot by liking a meme on Instagram that didn’t sit well with NASCAR’s rulebook. Fast forward to now, and Tony Stewart has rolled the dice, bringing Gragson into the SHR fold. Pockrass is buzzing about the potential of this union in the Cup Series.

In a recent Twitter video, Bob Pockrass dissected this move. He mused, “It’s certainly not a slam dunk, but when you look at it and look at it from Noah’s perspective, someone say, “Eh, he should have probably gone to Xfinity racing.” He knows he can win races there, can win races, and gain some confidence back. But he’s got an opportunity to go cup racing, at an organization that at one time was a very strong organization. So, you know, see what he can do. I don’t know that he even has to win races, but if he can run top 20, week in, and week out, that would be a good year for him.”

Pockrass then pondered the bigger picture for Stewart Haas Racing. “And how about for Stewart Haas? Their cup lineup has just one career cup win. They need somebody who can win. They know Noah can win in a stock car. The only question is, can he do it in the cup?” Rumors of Gragson’s shift to the new team had been in the air for about a week, especially after he was spotted at SHR’s headquarters. 

 

Noah Gragson, an impactful Xfinity Series driver under JR Motorsports, bagged 13 wins and nearly clinched the 2022 championship. His stint in the Cup with Legacy, though, was not very impressive, marked by a suspension for his social media faux pas. He clocked an average finish of 28.2 in the No. 42 car before parting ways with Legacy, which is switching to Toyota next year. After that, he went on to explore and work on his driving skills, participating in series like Snowball Derby.

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As for sponsorships for Gragson under the SHR banner, Stewart and Gragson are keeping cards close to their chests, likely still ironing out those details. But it’s not just about racing lines and lap times for Gragson anymore. He’s been doing some soul-searching, taking NASCAR’s internal courses, and consulting with a psychologist. It’s clear he’s putting the work off track as much as on it.

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The newest SHR driver calls himself a “selfish guy” 

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While many might leap to his defense over a seemingly trivial Instagram post that led to his suspension, Gragson himself sees it as a pivotal learning moment. During his time away from the track, he didn’t just twiddle his thumbs. Instead, he dove deep into a sensitivity training course with NASCAR and even sought insights from a psychologist. According to Gragson, these past five months have been nothing short of transformative, as per ESPN.in.

“It has brought a tremendous amount of self-awareness to myself, self-reflection, and ultimately it opened my eyes to the world and showed me I was a pretty selfish guy. I’ve learned to pay more attention, be more present, enjoy the people I’m with. This has really been a rude awakening of all the work I needed to do on myself.”

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Reflecting on the incident that started it all, Gragson acknowledges his role: “I think my ignorance and lack of awareness put me in that position to like that meme,” Gragson said. “I think through everything I’ve learned, I’m able to have situational awareness. I think at that time, it was laziness on social media. I don’t know why it came up on my page, but I take accountability for the lack of awareness and realize I put myself in that position and want to become better from it.”

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

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Controversies, gossip, and breakneck speeds? Count me in! While F1 has its charm, NASCAR helps me relive those "Roadrash" gaming days. My favorite among the drivers has to be Tyler Reddick. The 23XI Racing pilot is not only likable but also a complete beast when he is on track, more specifically, road courses.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta