Noah Gragson Teleconference Transcript

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ANNOUNCED TODAY, BEARD MOTORSPORTS HAS SELECTED NOAH GRAGSON TO DRIVE THE NO. 62 CAMARO ZL1 1LE IN THE 63rd RUNNING OF THE DAYTONA 500 SLATED FOR FEBRUARY 14, 2021. Gragson met with media via teleconference and discussed his NASCAR Cup Series debut, the opportunity to drive for Beard Motorsports and to have been chosen by Brendan Gaughan, his expectations, qualifying, and more. Full Transcript: TALK ABOUT HOW ALL THIS CAME TOGETHER AND YOUR EXCITEMENT ABOUT BEING ENTERED INTO THE GREAT AMERICAN RACE“It all happened over Thanksgiving when it first initially started. I was in my room in Vegas and it was about midday and Brendan Gaughan texted me and asked me if I had opportunities through JR Motorsports contracts to run other cars. He didn’t really give me much more than that at first. And I’m like, I’m not sure. They probably know. And he said all right, one second and I’ll call Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller). That’s my boss. So, he called her, and he called me back the next day and he’s like hey, would you want to run my car for the Daytona 500 in 2021? And I thought he was messing with me. I probably can’t say exactly what I said, but I’m like hey, are you ‘blanking’ with me, messing with me? And he’s like no. I want you to run my car. So, that was really cool. Kelley gave him a thumbs-up for me to run that car. He said he called Jimmie Johnson first and Jimmie didn’t want to do it, so I was his second pick which was pretty surreal.
“But nonetheless, I’m excited and it’s quite the opportunity and a privilege to drive that famous No. 62 Beard Motorsports car with South Point and Beard Oil on it. It’s going to be really just a dream come true for myself. If you would have told me when I was younger and racing Bandoleros when I was 13 years old that I’d be racing in the Cup Series in nine years and making my first Cup race, I would say you were lying. Nonetheless, I’m very excited.”
BRENDAN GAUGHAN HAND-PICKED YOU TO BE THE DRIVER OF THIS CAR AND TAKE THIS RIDE. AND HE SAID HE FEELS LIKE YOU ARE A GREAT RACER. HE SAID, ‘I’VE KNOWN NOAH A LONG TIME AND I KNOW HE’S A VERY GOOD RACE CAR DRIVER WHO IS READY TO DO SOME CUP RACING’. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HIM SAYING THAT?“It’s extremely humbling to me because Brendan has been the guy, probably one of the guys that stands out, that I can tell he really wants the best for me and my career. He’s from Vegas and I’m from Vegas, as well. So, I’ve been friends with him and his family for quite a few years now. And so, I always try to go to Brendan for advice and a lot of the time it’s not what I want to hear, but he tells me straight-up. That’s how I know that he really wants the best for me. He’ll let me know when I mess up and I’m thankful for that. Brendan is a great mentor of mine and a great friend of mine. I’m lucky that he picked me for this opportunity because there are a lot of great race car drivers out there and I just want to make him proud on Sunday at the Daytona 500.”
WHEN BRENDAN CALLED TO LET YOU KNOW HE HAD HAND-PICKED YOU, WERE YOU AWARE OF THAT? AND WILL YOU CONTINUE TO LEAN ON HIM GOING RIGHT INTO SPEEDWEEKS AS YOU PREPARE FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO RUN THE DAYTONA 500?“Yeah, he told me that he asked Jimmie (Johnson) if he wanted to drive the car first, but I don’t know exactly what he said. Brendan mentioned that he was focused on the INDYCAR stuff and didn’t want to do superspeedways or something. I don’t know exactly, but that’s what I gathered from it. And then he’s like so, you come from Las Vegas and I wanted to give you a shot to drive that car. I’m super excited for that and I’m very thankful to Brendan and to both Mr. and Mrs. Beard for allowing me to have this opportunity. It’s going to be a privilege to be able to try to qualify our way into the Daytona 500. They always have fast cars with the No. 62 Beard Motorsports car. So, I’m confident that we should have good speed, but I’m going to lean on Brendan as much as I can and try to wear him out. Everyone here knows that Brendan doesn’t like to shut up. So, he’ll like when I ask him questions and I’m going to wear him out come Daytona time.”
WE’VE SEEN YOU GET SICK TO YOUR STOMACH WHEN YOU GET EXCITED. HOW DO YOU KEEP FROM THAT WHEN YOU ATTEMPT TO QUALIFY; POTENTIALLY HAVING TO RACE YOUR WAY IN?“I think it’s a little different. Whenever I get excited and win a race and get out of the car and spike my heartrate after I sometimes throw-up after I climb the fence and do all that. But, come qualifying time, I think it’s going to be a different mindset for me. It’s going to be just about thinking of the preparation that went into that weekend for myself and how I can lay down a clean lap. I talked to Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. last year quite a bit about different qualifying techniques. He was also really good back in his career in qualifying the car. So, with that being said, I don’t know. It comes down to that preparation and just not having to ask yourself any last-second questions and just knowing what needs to be done and where I need to be, placement-wise, on the race track and just trying to be confident, cool, calm, and collected.”
HERE’S AN XFINITY QUESTION FOR YOU: DO YOU KNOW WHO IS GOING TO SPOT FOR YOU, OR CAN YOU SAY WHAT THE TRANSITION WILL BE LIKE GOING FROM ‘BIG EARL’ (EARL BARBAN) TO SOMEONE ELSE?“Well, I’m bummed-out, but I’m happy that Big Earl is doing another role within motorsports but not going to be my spotter anymore. I don’t know if I can say quite yet, but it’s someone who has spotted for me in the past and that’s pretty close to me. I’m excited for the opportunity to work with that person.”
DO YOU PLAN ON DOING ANY OTHER CUP RACES THIS YEAR, LIKE MAYBE TALLADEGA OR DAYTONA LATER IN THE SEASON SINCE BEARD MOTORSPORTS HAS DONE THOSE IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS?“No, right now it’s just about the Daytona 500. That’s all I know. I’m just extremely thankful for the opportunity to do the one race and I’m trying to make the most of it at Daytona. That’s my only focus. I haven’t heard anything other. Brendan and Mr. and Mrs. Beard, they just told me about Daytona so that’s all I know right now. But my goal is to try to prove myself. I don’t know what their future is. Brendan mentioned this might be their last race as a team. It might not. I don’t know. But hopefully we can have a successful run for Mr. and Mrs. Beard and Beard Oil and that team because they’re a small group. It’s a one-man band over there with Darren Shaw building the cars. He’s the crew chief. He does it all over there from transmissions to motors to shaking the body; he does it all. Darren Shaw is going to be great to work with and I’m excited for the opportunity. But right now, it’s just about trying to make the most of the opportunity and I’m happy with one because one is better than zero. So, I’m not going to bite the hand that feeds me. I’m just excited for this opportunity.”
DO YOU WANT TO GIVE A SHOUT-OUT TO BRENDAN GAUGHAN?“Brendan is a legend in my eyes and someone I’ve looked-up to during my whole career. Now to be driving his car is quite an honor and a very humbling experience. So, thank you Brendan for believing in me. I appreciate it.”
ARE YOU NERVOUS OR IS THIS LIKE A DREAM COME TRUE?“Oh yeah, I’m nervous. It’s the Daytona 500. But it’s all I’ve ever dreamed of. This is what I’ve dreamed of my whole career and it’s been a goal of mine to make a Cup Series start. So, I think there’s a lot of nerves. But at the same time, I’ve gone to bed at night every night wondering what it would be like to race in the Cup Series and watching videos all day and watching You Tube videos of all the NASCAR races and different stuff. Now it’s going to be a reality. So, I might be a little nervous, but I’m more excited than anything; and ready to attack the opportunity.”

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