Saturday, August 25, 2018

PixelatedPICK: Gragson Ready to Shift Some Gears in Canada

Noah Gragson is eager for a strong run in Canada.
Since the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has the weekend off, I’ve split up the PixelatedPICK this weekend between the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series.

Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, Bill Elliott was my Saturday pick in the Xfinity Series race at Road America. Bill had an up and down day, including some significant contact midway through the race that affected the car’s performance. A late race spin sent him to the back, but he fought back and finished 20th.

Bill Elliott finished 20th at Road America on Saturday.
RELATED >> PixelatedPICK: Awesome Bill Rides Again

Moving to Sunday, the truckers head north of the border to race once again at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. This race marks the first race in round one of the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs.

My PixelatedPICK for this race is Noah Gragson. The Las Vegas born racer competes for Kyle Busch Motorsports and is in this year’s playoffs thanks to his win at Kansas back in May. With the win, and 22 playoff points, Gragson is seeded third in the championship standings coming into the weekend. Kyle Busch Motorsports has previously won in Canada with driver Erik Jones during the 2015 campaign. Gragson is looking for a strong start into this season’s playoffs with a solid run in Canada.

“We’ve got some good tracks coming up. We have Canada and then Vegas. Those are two really good tracks for us — we led laps there last year and finished second and then went to Vegas earlier this year and had a pretty strong run — led some laps as well. Really pumped up to get to those first two tracks and then you have the wildcard — Talladega. That one — that’s an odd ball. The first two hopefully we can pick up a win and lock ourselves in. I feel really comfortable with my Kyle Busch Motorsports Safelite AutoGlass team going into the playoffs.”

Gragson has won twice at Miller Motorsports Park.
Although Gragson is more well known for his super late model prowess, he has three previous road course victories in the K&N Pro Series before making the jump up to trucks.

“I think I’m a regular racer — NASCAR driver — who really enjoys going to the road courses. Some guys they don’t like going to the road course because it’s different, but I love out braking people, downshifting, upshifting, going left and right and sawing on the wheel. It’s a lot of fun the road courses, I picked it up quick racing Legend Cars and have really enjoyed it ever since. Won three K&N road-course races – actually in a row, within eight days. So, I’ve run up front — finished second to Chase Elliott at Sonoma in the K&N race, he passed me with two to go. Really feel comfortable going into the road-course race, it’s a lot of fun and I’m ready to get out there and shift some gears.”

This weekend, Gragson has had solid speed. He topped the leaderboard in the first practice session, then followed that up with seventh in practice two. In qualifying, Gragson was within a half second of pole sitter Ben Rhodes and line up on the outside of row number one. In comparison, third place qualifier Myatt Snider was well over a second behind Rhodes.

Gragson crashes at Dover in May.
Gragson has been solid throughout the season, but notably has run into trouble in the late stages of races, most notably contact with outside wall after a failed attempt at side-drafting Johnny Sauter with two laps to go at Dover in May.

Dramatics aside, Gragson has been very consistent this year, scoring six top fives and twelve top tens in 15 of the 16 races run this season. He qualified, but was unable to compete in Pocono due to illness. Despite missing the race, his overall performance this year has shown him to be a contender week in and week out, making him a sure fire favorite this weekend.

Each week PixelatedSPEED will pick one driver, or team, as the PixelatedPICK. No fantasy rosters, leagues, budgets, or any of that other inflated fantasy stuff... just one driver... win or lose... for the fun of it!  If you've made it this far into the post, thank you. Please consider sharing this content on the interwebs and following PixelatedSPEED on Facebook and Twitter and joining in on the conversation. &

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