Super Late Models
William Byron Ready for More Late Model Racing after Derby
Dec 5, 2022
For all intents and purposes, Noah Gragson's run towards a second victory in the Snowball Derby was over just as it truly began.
Starting fifth in the Rette Jones Racing No. 30, the Petty GMS Cup Series driver immediately began to fall through the field and fell off the lead lap before the first caution. Luckily for them, they were the first recipient of the free pass on Lap 60 for an Augie Grill spin.
The next green flag run, they were still loose, and lost the lead lap again only to receive another free pass. They received three of them on Sunday but still finished 20th and two laps down. By the end, the car was really good but too much track position had been lost over the course of the race.
"Started fifth and fell back and got lapped on that first run, was super loose. We tightened the car up, tightened the car up," Gragson said. "It started getting better and better.
"I thought we were a fifth to eighth place car by the end of the race. Just track position after getting trapped a lap down. It's part of it. Really proud of this Kasey Jones Racing and Jones Demolition team.
"Mark Rette and his guys did a great job all weekend. It's been a long long week. We were 20th whatever at the end, track position hurt us, we'll come back stronger next year."
To that point, Gragson will race full-time at the Cup Series level next year with Petty GMS but intends to make several starts with the Jones and Rette organization. He has long said this is his favorite discipline of racing and has attended races even when he doesn't have a car in the field.
To him, it's a matter of showing respect to the full-timers of the division, something he did after the race when he shared beers with Bubba Pollard and his family team.
"It's a really good field," Gragson said. "Congratulations to Derek and that whole Campbell team because they've been the class of the field four years straight. That's hard to do with the stacked level of cars and people, everything that goes into getting one team down here.
"So then you get 50-60 of the best teams that come down here so to be one guy that's a part of it, very grateful for that. It's cool to come here on Sunday morning. I parked a half mile down the road because I got here too late and needed to walk in. That being said, I've enjoyed the week but wish we had been better. We will keep learning and come back here with a larger notebook."
So what's next for Gragson until the Clash at the LA Coliseum?
"I don't know," he said. "The only things I have planned are snowboarding and spending Christmas and New Years out in Vegas. I'll be in North Carolina a lot, going over to the gym with Josh Wise, and just doing everything I can to be at my best for next year."