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Overstock.com Racing: Noah Gragson Texas Advance – Speedway Digest

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Interesting notes

● It's been six weeks since the last NASCAR Cup Series race on a 1.5-mile oval. It was March 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Noah Gragson drove his No. 10 Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Stewart-Haas Racing to a season-best sixth place finish. Next up on the Cup Series schedule is the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Gragson is looking forward to racing in the Lone Star State and achieving another strong result.

● Gragson has just one start in the NASCAR Cup Series at Texas. It happened in September 2022 when the Las Vegas native finished 21st for Kaulig Racing. It was just Gragson's 13th career start in the Cup Series. Sunday's AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 marks Gragson's 48th career Cup Series start. His milestone 50th Cup Series career is scheduled to begin April 28 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway.

● While Gragson's NASCAR Cup Series experience is limited in Texas, his overall experience on the D-shaped oval is not. He has eight starts there in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and four starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

● In these eight NASCAR starts After finishing 13th, 30th and 30th in his first three starts, Gragson earned a strong second-place finish in October 2020. He improved from his ninth starting position and led three times for 43 laps before hitting .445 of a second short to winner Harrison Burton. Gragson scored three additional top-10 finishes in his last four Xfinity Series starts at Texas and emerged victorious in his last start at the track in September 2022. Gragson started second and took the lead on lap one. In the end, he led three times for a total of 85 laps of the race, including the last 12, and secured victory by 1.238 seconds over second-place Austin Hill. The only finish outside the top 10 during this four-race stretch came in May 2022, when Gragson won the pole and led twice for 32 laps before getting into a six-car accident on lap 124 of the 167-lap race He ended up in 36th place.

● In his four starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Texas, Gragson never finished outside the top 10. In June 2017, he made his strong debut by winning pole and leading twice for 13 laps before finishing seventh. In the end, it was Gragson's best Truck Series finish at Texas, as he finished tenth three times in a row in his last three Truck Series starts (November 2017, June 2018 and November 2018).

● For the second year in a row, Overstock.com adorns Gragson's No. 10 Ford Mustang. The partnership reinforces the recent relaunch of Overstock.com, the home of crazy bargains that offer quality and style for less. Overstock.com is aimed at the savvy shopper who loves the thrill of the hunt. It includes product categories customers know and love, such as patio furniture, home furniture and rugs, while reintroducing jewelry, watches and health and beauty products.

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 10 Overstock.com Ford Mustang Dark Horse

The risk-reward factor is higher in Texas because the speeds are much higher there. Can you explain how fast things happen in Texas and how quickly you have to think and act on the track?

“Texas is a challenge because from the exit of turn two you're pretty far ahead all the way through (turns) three and four until you get to turn one. There are two different corners in Texas, and that is a big challenge for the car to handle properly. Turns three and four are steeper and turns one and two are flatter and wider. It's a tough, challenging race track and it's always pretty hot and slippery. It's easy to get out of the groove and break out through one and two. You definitely have to be involved from the start.”

Texas is the exact opposite of a short track, where the NASCAR Cup Series has held races the last two weekends. But do you want to see the kind of tire drop that we saw on the short tracks where the race would have more entry and exit, or does that get a little dicey given the speeds you're running in Texas?

“Texas is super slippery just because it has been repaved in the last 10 years, so it would be difficult to wear out the tires out there. But it’s stuck, it’s fine, you move quickly there and I like that challenge.”

What are the tricky parts of Texas and what do you have to do every time you take a lap?

“You can go all the way down and dip your right side into the resin, or you can run all four in the traction mass, but when you slide up there's only one groove in that traction mass. If you try to go a little higher in the corner, it could be a disaster and you could end up skidding and losing all grip. It's like hitting ice. That’s a big challenge there.”

Texas is another track where you've had significant success in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In fact, you won there in your last Xfinity Series start and have never finished outside the top 10 in four truck starts of your career at Texas. What allowed you to have so much success in Texas?

“I have no idea. I felt like it was always my worst track. The first time I was there we got the pole which was great and I told myself in the truck that if I wanted to shoot the pole I had to be wide open and I held it wide open until I got to the Pole passed the checkered flag. I think it's just about being disciplined and getting to the finish line every lap. There’s a handful around this place.”

Texas' winning streak is pretty exaggerated with flames, confetti, cowboy hats and six shooters. Was it one of your favorite places to celebrate a win?

“Yes, it is by far fun to celebrate the winning streak. There are always a lot of people there, they have cool trophies, cowboy hats and there are flames shooting up in the background. It's a nice time, but it's always hot in Texas and it feels like it's 200 degrees in a sauna in Victory Lane just because the fire is burning there all the time. I remember when we won the Xfinity race and I was like, 'Please just tell them to turn the flames out because it's so damn hot and I'm exhausted.'”

What is your favorite barbecue joint in Texas?

“I love going to Hard Eight BBQ. I could eat lunch and dinner there every day when I'm in town. I love this place. I get brisket, I get the bacon wrapped jalapeno, and I also do a jalapeno creamed corn, and that's all I need. For me, it's the only place that really has everything for me, and I'm not really a big grill person. But for whatever reason, when we end up in Texas, I go to Hard Eight in Dallas.”

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