The 36-race schedule in 2023 will mark Noah Gragson’s first full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series. He set the stage for this move with strong words about the benefits of believing in yourself.
Gragson provided the insight during the championship weekend at Phoenix Raceway. He met with Heavy and other members of the media to discuss Jimmie Johnson becoming the owner of Petty GMS. He explained that being able to drive for multiple NASCAR champions is wild, but he also noted that it is the result of extensive effort and trust.
“You know, I feel like when you believe in yourself and you can be in a position where people believe in you, good things happen,” Gragson explained. “And I think that’s Maury Gallagher’s vision. Mike Beam, Richard Petty, the Petty family. Well, Jimmie Johnson, it’s very special.”
Gragson continued, explaining that Johnson’s entry into the organization was “pretty wild” for him. This is because he signed his contract months before the seven-time champion to join the team, although he was considering taking on that new role.
Gragson made it clear to the media that he was not among the people who had inside information about Johnson’s move to Petty GMS. It surprised him along with a large majority of fans and industry members.
Gragson was unprepared for this information, but he was able to attend a special event because he was in the right place at the right time. He and Erik Jones were both able to attend Johnson’s inaugural press conference at Phoenix Raceway and witness the start of a new era.
“I don’t think anyone – I was personally shocked – would have thought in their wildest dreams that Jimmie Johnson and Richard Petty and Maury Gallagher would join forces to own a NASCAR Cup Series team,” added Gragson.
“But obviously it was a very special moment that we had today listening to Maury and Richard and Mike Beam and Jimmie just thinking about their goals and vision of where they want this to take them. I think it’s obviously a very special moment and [I’m] I’m just happy to be working with these guys.”
The 2022 Xfinity Series season is over and Gragson is no longer a full-time driver for JR Motorsports. He’s now the man to take charge of the #42 Petty GMS Chevrolet Camaro and he’ll take the opportunity to learn as much as he can.
Gragson noted during his media presence that he is already in a relationship with Johnson. He has been texting his “big brother figure” for the past several years for helpful advice on specific situations that may arise at the track. Now they will have more opportunities to communicate. However, Gragson will also have another rider to lean on in teammate Erik Jones.
“[I] felt like a little brother just wearing down the big brother,” Gragson said of Johnson. “Not to compare that he’s like a big brother to me at the moment, but in that sense I’ve tried to get as much knowledge as possible from him. So he was always open to helping me and really, really grateful for that.
“Jimmie, obviously, [brings] much emphasis on the team and various aspects. And I personally think it’s something very special for everyone involved. Everyone is really excited. and [I’m] excited to be able to be teammates with Erik Jones full time. He’s also a great driver.”