Motorsport News

Noah Gragson Enjoying Comeback Story Amidst Stewart-Haas Racing Circus

Nascar Cup Series

Did You Notice? … Noah Gragson is already NASCAR’s Comeback Driver of the Year?

Just nine months after a suspension from the sport threatened to derail his career, Gragson is pulling a Kyle Larson 2.0 and putting a season together that’s worthy of his promotion to the NASCAR Cup Series.

Twelve races into the year, Gragson has five top-10 finishes, leaving him 19th in points and within striking distance of a postseason bid. He’s currently 71 points behind playoff bubble driver Brad Keselowski, a deficit that would be just 36 if not for a faulty roof air deflector penalty assessed at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

That leaves Gragson on pace for 15 top 10s with a team that’s only been improving as the year’s gone on. He’s currently on a run of three straight top 10s, including an impressive 36th-to-third, career-best performance at Talladega Superspeedway last month.

Off the track, Gragson remains popular with fans but reformed after NASCAR’s decision to suspend him following what they deemed offensive activity on social media. Gragson was released from his deal at Legacy Motor Club days later, ending a tumultuous rookie season in Cup where he posted just a single top-15 finish in 21 starts.

Now, he’s saying all the right things, positive and optimistic in media interviews while shying away from controversy. While a little blander, you don’t get the feeling he’s lost an edgy personality that’s endeared him to NASCAR’s fan base.

It’s a situation similar to Larson, who got fired by Chip Ganassi Racing in 2020 for using a racial slur in an online race. Larson took his time to take a step back, embrace NASCAR’s rehabilitation program and learn from his mistakes. He rebounded the following year with 10 wins and the 2021 Cup title, easily the strongest season of his career filled with newfound purpose and ambition.

Gragson isn’t quite championship caliber just yet. But in some ways, the year he’s produced with new employer Stewart-Haas Racing is even more extraordinary than what Larson accomplished.

Larson, of course, leveled up by aligning with the winningest race team in NASCAR history, Hendrick Motorsports. He was surrounded by the best personnel, top-tier equipment and given every resource necessary to succeed.

Compare that to Gragson, whose once-championship level SHR program has fallen on hard times. Failing to win in 2023 and posting a total of 13 top-five finishes among its four drivers,…

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