Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Noah Gragson moving to Cup Series with Petty GMS Racing in 2023

Petty GMS Racing announced Wednesday that the team has hired Noah Gragson to join their NASCAR Cup Series team beginning in 2023. Gragson will move up from the NASCAR Xfinity Series to drive the No. 42 Petty GMS Chevrolet, becoming the first confirmed rookie driver in Cup next season.

Gragson will replace Ty Dillon as the driver of the No. 42 and serve as the teammate to Erik Jones, who recently signed a multi-year contract extension to remain the driver of the Petty No. 43. Gragson becomes the latest driver to run his rookie year in a Petty car, a group which also includes Richard Petty himself (Petty won Rookie of the Year in 1959), Kyle Petty, Brian Scott and Bubba Wallace. Dillon does not currently have a ride for the 2023 Cup Series.

“To be able to finally announce my plans for next season and officially say I will be competing full time in the NASCAR Cup Series is a dream come true,” Gragson said in a team press release. “This is what we all dream of when we start racing at a young age, to be able to compete at the top level with the best in the world. I’m excited to join Petty GMS and drive a car that has so much history in our sport, the No. 42.”

At a young 24 years old and from Las Vegas, Noah Gragson has become one of NASCAR’s most provocative personas as he has grown into a star and championship contender in the Xfinity Series. He has eight career wins in Xfinity, including three this season at Phoenix, Talladega and Pocono, and finished a career-best third in the championship standings last season. He has also made nine Cup starts so far this season, splitting time between Kaulig Racing and Beard Motorsports with a best finish of 18th at Kansas.

Gragson recently told CBS Sports that it was a “privilege” to be able to race in the Cup Series, expressing how his long-term goals had always been there even if he could never have originally envisioned himself reaching the top level of stock car racing.

“Running the Cup Series, we put a lot of hard work in. There’s still a long ways to go, but this is what we work for and this is where the goal has been,” Gragson said. “But never would I have dreamed that I’d be able to race in the Cup Series, much less the Truck Series or the K&N Series back in the day, you know?

“It’s been pretty surreal, but as the years have gone on and the hard work keeps getting put in, I’m trying to take advantage of the opportunities that we have.”

The hire of Gragson by Petty GMS fills what had been the most notable open ride in the Cup Series next season. The No. 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing has been expected to be open as well, but that vacancy’s status is uncertain as speculation has raged that Aric Almirola may end up backtracking on his plans to retire at season’s end.

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