NASCAR: The rising star making the most of his second chance

Noah Gragson's rookie NASCAR Cup Series season saw subpar finishes and an early release from Legacy Motor Club. Now he is making the most of his second chance with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Noah Gragson, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR
Noah Gragson, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR / James Gilbert/GettyImages

Some argue that second chances don't matter, while others can make the most out of them. The latter has been true for Stewart-Haas Racing's Noah Gragson during the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season thus far.

The Las Vegas, Nevada native was white-hot in the Xfinity Series, driving the No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports for four years before his move to the Cup Series in 2023.

In his final year in the series, Gragson won eight races and finished in second place in the point standings behind Joe Gibbs Racing's Ty Gibbs, who also moved to the Cup Series in 2023. While Gragson was able to get within half a car length to Gibbs' bumper at Phoenix Raceway in the Championship 4 race, he had to settle for runner-up.

Nevertheless, Gragson was able to use this experience to earn a Cup Series promotion, and he joined Legacy Motor Club for the 2023 campaign. While it seemed like a promising opportunity, it did not pan out.

Gragson's rookie season produced 21 starts, two top 20 finishes, and six DNFs. With poor performance and controversy tied to his name, he was granted his release by Legacy Motor Club in August.

But Gragson was gifted a second chance and has made the most out of it thus far, resurging his NASCAR career.

After his release from Legacy Motor Club, Gragson was signed by Stewart-Haas Racing drive the No. 10 Ford, replacing veteran Aric Almirola. This season, Gragson has already scored three top five finishes, including a career-best finish of third place at Talladega Superspeedway.

Additionally, Gragson is scheduled to return to the Xfinity Series for select starts behind the wheel of the No. 30 Ford for Rette Jones Racing as they look to expand their team from the ARCA Menard Series to the next level of stock car racing.

Through just 11 races on the 2024 schedule, it is unclear if this is the true Noah Gragson or just a very successful run to start the year, but the former seems to be the case.

Gragson had competitive moments when he was driving for Beard Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, and Hendrick Motorsports in the Cup Series, and given that his replacement at Legacy Motor Club, John Hunter Nemechek, is currently lower than he is in the point standings, despite Gragson's 35-point penalty in February, his struggles last year may speak more about Legacy Motor Club than about his own ability.

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Gragson has shown with the right equipment and team support that he can be competitive on the race track. While victory lane may still be out of reach, at least right now, it's clear that he has made the most out of his second chance in the NASCAR Cup Series thus far.