NASCAR: 2021 Daytona 500 entry list continues to grow

Noah Gragson, JR Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Noah Gragson, JR Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Noah Gragson is set to drive for Beard Motorsports in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, further growing the entry list.

There will be multiple NASCAR drivers disappointed by the time qualifying for the 63rd annual Daytona 500 is finished, with only 40 being able to qualify.

The entry list for this 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked Daytona International Speedway oval in Daytona Beach, Florida continues to grow, and now we have another new addition to the lineup.

Noah Gragson is set to make his Cup Series debut in this year’s edition of the “Great American Race”, just one year after winning the Xfinity Series season opener at the track.

Gragson, who competes full-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, is set to compete behind the wheel of the #62 Chevrolet for Beard Motorsports.

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The #62 Chevrolet is the 44th confirmed entry for this race. Brendan Gaughan had been the team’s driver in the Daytona 500 plus the other three superspeedway races on the schedule in each of the last four seasons, but he announced last year that the 2020 season would be last.

Beard Motorsports have not confirmed whether or not Gragson will compete for the team in the other race at Daytona International Speedway or in either one of the two races at Talladega Superspeedway.

Here is what Gragson had to say about the opportunity to make his Daytona 500 debut in a team release.

"“I’m excited and humbled to have this opportunity with Beard Motorsports. As a young racer from Las Vegas, I had always dreamt of racing in the Daytona 500. I’m very appreciative of the faith the Beard family and Brendan have in me, and equally appreciative to JR Motorsports for allowing me to pull double duty and compete for them in the Xfinity Series and also Beard Motorsports while we’re down in Daytona.“When you’re racing Late Models and trying to work your way up, the Daytona 500 seems pretty far away. To have it become a reality is something I don’t take lightly. I’m ready for this moment and I’m proud to have it.”"

Gaughan himself also commented.

"“I loved racing for the Beard Family and even though I’m retired, I’m honored to be a part of their team and I’m very protective of what they’ve built. 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. Just as importantly, he takes good care of his equipment and he’s there at the end of races. In his entire Xfinity Series career, he’s only had four DNFs. That’s important no matter who you’re racing for, but it’s especially important for Beard Motorsports.“I’m proud to see Noah have this opportunity and proud to see another Las Vegas guy in the NASCAR Cup Series.”"

Here is what team owner Mark Beard Sr. had to add.

"“Racing is our passion project. Even with Brendan’s retirement, we wanted to keep racing. We’ve accomplished a lot with the resources we have and we’re proud to give Noah the chance to chase his dream just like we chase ours.”"

With the 36 chartered entries being locked into the race, Gragson will need to qualify for one of the four remaining open spots, and there are now eight confirmed non-chartered entries for the event.

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Single-car qualifying is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 10, and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels are scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 11 to solidify the starting lineup. The race itself is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 14.