Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Beard Motorsports Back with Gragson for Daytona 500


Twenty-Three-Year-Old Las Vegas Native Ready to

Earn Spot in 64th Running of The Great American Race

MT. PLEASANT, Mich. (Nov. 16, 2021) – Beard Motorsports has selected Noah Gragson to drive its No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro in the 64th running of the Daytona 500 Feb. 20 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.


It marks Gragson’s return to Beard Motorsports, as the generational race team founded by the late Mark Beard Sr., and now run by his wife, Linda Beard, tabbed Gragson for last year’s Daytona 500. Unfortunately, Gragson was collected in a multicar accident just four laps short of the finish in his 150-mile qualifying race, which prevented him from advancing to the Daytona 500.


As a non-chartered team, Beard Motorsports has no guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500, meaning it has to race its way into The Great American Race.


“To say that we can’t wait to get back to Daytona is a massive understatement,” said Amie Beard, executive vice president, Beard Motorsports. “From the moment my father founded this race team, we all took a tremendous amount of pride in showing up and performing right alongside the established teams in the sport. Last year didn’t go the way we wanted, but that’s just made us more motivated to return.”


That motivation is echoed by Mark Beard Jr., who helps his sister, Amie, manage the race team.


“We have a NextGen car, we have Noah, and we still have our alliance with Richard Childress Racing,” he said. “Some folks might be ready for the offseason, but we’re definitely on for Daytona.”


Gragson has a similar mindset. With qualifying unavailable at the other superspeedway races in 2021, Beard Motorsports didn’t have the chance to race again. The 2022 Daytona 500 provides that long-sought opportunity for Beard Motorsports to get back to the track and Gragson to get that first career NASCAR Cup Series start.


“I’m so happy to have this opportunity to return to Daytona with Beard Motorsports,” said the 23-year-old Gragson. “It was good to get a taste of Cup racing in last year’s Duel, but it left us all wanting more. We’ve got some unfinished business down there.”


Helping take care of that unfinished business is Brendan Gaughan. The former NASCAR Cup Series driver who finished his racing career with Beard Motorsports is now its vice president of racing operations.


“All of us look forward to having Brendan up on the pit box with us,” said Linda Beard. “He has been with us since the beginning and become a part of our family. His personality and his relationships in this sport are essential to our race team. In a season where seemingly everything is new, his presence provides stability. It’s great to have him next to me as we continue this journey.”


Beard Motorsports has proven to be the little team that could, a modern-day David competing against the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. The team employs just one fulltime person – crew chief Darren Shaw – and has since its debut in the 2017 Daytona 500 when Gaughan finished 11th.


Beard Motorsports makes it all work by taking a strategic approach to its racing endeavors. Its alliance with Richard Childress Racing and singular focus on the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway have yielded solid results, most recently a pair of top-10 finishes at Daytona in 2020 – seventh in the Daytona 500 and eighth in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 – both at the hands of Gaughan.


“Beard Motorsports has proven that it can run with the big teams there at Daytona, and I’m just really looking forward to getting another crack at it,” Gragson said. “We know we have to race our way into the Daytona 500, and I’m very appreciative of the faith the Beard Family has in me.”


Gragson is a five-time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the first of which came in the 2020 season opener at Daytona. His recently completed 2021 season netted three wins and a spot in the Championship 4, where the Las Vegas-native ultimately finished a career-high third in points. The 2022 season will be Gragson’s fourth full year in the Xfinity Series and he returns to the familiar No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports.



Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Hendrick Motorsports driver quotes heading into Phoenix

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on his mindset heading to Phoenix Raceway: “It’s definitely the most important race ever in my career. I’m fortunate that it’s at Phoenix. It’s a track I haven’t won at before, but I’ve had some really good runs there, and earlier this year we had a really, really good race car. I just made two mistakes and sped on pit road two different times. If I can clean up those mistakes, I think we’ll have a great shot to win as well as the other three guys who I’m sure I’ll be going up against. It’ll be tough, but I’m looking forward to a chance to race for a championship.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on using notes from the spring Phoenix race: “The best experience that we have to go off of is the spring race that we had there. Our car was really fast. We had a couple of mistakes of Kyle speeding on pit road, and some of that was on us too just for getting the timing marks down. But we've learned from that and we have good notes from that race. Of course, great notes from Alan (Gustafson) and Chase (Elliott) winning the championship and winning the race there last year. So, those two recent data points of ourselves and our teammates are just great to have and great to go off of and build from.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on if there are lessons from last year’s championship run that he will carry with him this season: “I think a little bit of everything. We will look at obviously our car side of things from how we raced the last few years, not just that particular race last year. Then, obviously, the spring race in Phoenix – we have some things to look back at. So, I think we will definitely dive through every bit of that information that we have. I think from the mental side, having that experience of going and experiencing the emotions of the week and leading up to it and all those things, it is kind of nice to have been through that before. It didn't really seem to matter last year so I don't know that it really matters; I don’t know whether it really affects your performance or not, but there were things and experiences that I learned last year that I'll try to carry forward to better myself and to better our team and that's all you can do with that information.”

Elliott on being locked into the Championship 4: “Getting in that final four is really the goal every year. The goal is to go win the championship, so it’s just nice to have another shot. It wasn't the exciting transfer walk-off type like it was last year but nonetheless, to have a shot to go race for to the championship is really all that matters to us right now. I would love to have won at Martinsville, but I feel like our teams in a good place, performing well over the last couple weeks so I am excited for the opportunity. That's all I can ask for this time of year.”

Elliott on the No. 9 team dynamic: “I feel like we have a great team. I feel like our approach is very similar; I let him do his job and he lets me do my job. We don't question it and I feel like it ends up being a really nice working relationship. Our team has grown and has changed a little bit over the course of my six years. I think that as you go, you evolve and you get to know people better, you start doing better. You start finding that little bit in each person that helps performance each week and it all adds up. So, we have a great group people. I am proud to have them and I am excited go to work this weekend.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on competing for a championship against No. 5 team: “It makes it a lot of fun. It’s certainly more enjoyable for me and it gives you a little bit of comfort knowing that you have teammates who are going to be pushing the front and pushing forward to prove their cars, their pit crews, all of the above. It’s a fun time here and we are proud of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and what they have been able to do in all phases of this organization. They are operating at a super high level. It’s a fun time and we certainly enjoy it.”

Gustafson on looking back at the 2020 championship nearly one year later: “To me, it’s much more about 2021 than 2020. I’ve just been focused on trying to get in a position where we can do that again. I really haven’t had a chance to reflect on last year much or really even think about it. We are just focused on this season and trying to get ourselves and our team in the best position we can for this weekend. Certainly, there’s some things we learned going through last year and this season so far that we can apply, but as far as anything else, it’s just been keeping our eyes forward. We are looking forward to getting to Phoenix.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on what to expect returning to Phoenix Raceway this season: “When we went to Phoenix earlier this season, it was a good experimental race for us. It was still early on in the year, and we were still getting Rudy (Fugle) up to speed in the Cup Series. I think we learned a lot that race, but unfortunately not a ton will apply when we go back this weekend. With everything we’ve learned throughout the year, the car will be set up completely different and the track will handle differently, as well. The good thing is we will have practice this time around. With this being the final race, you know everyone will bring their best equipment, but we will have the time to really dial it in before the race. You just don’t want to cross the fine line of dialing yourself in or dialing yourself out.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on what the team has accomplished this season: “It’s crazy to think that this is the last race of the season and that my ‘rookie’ year is coming to a close. I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished as a team this year. I had a lot to learn coming in and everyone helped to get me up to speed. We won a race so early on and showed consistency throughout the rest of the year. This team as a whole, William included, has grown so much in just a short time to have a career-best year. There will be more to come; our chance will come. We would love to be heading to Phoenix in the hunt for a championship but we’re glad to have two teammates in the hunt representing Hendrick Motorsports, as well. We’ll all four be strong Sunday.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on if he’s satisfied with his breakout season: “Yes and no. It's so frustrating to have this playoff run go how it has gone. Last year, we had a great playoff run. We didn't go into it with a lot of playoff points, but we were extremely consist - finished pretty well in the points and had a good playoffs. This year, we've just had everything go wrong that could possibly go wrong. So, it was really special to at least get pointed in the right direction to try to end the season on a high note and get a win after how the last couple of months have gone. Obviously, we'd rather be in the final four. I think it's pretty obvious; that's what everybody wants. We just haven't had the consistency that we needed to make that happen. It's unfortunate, but that's just the way it went. So, we will work hard at trying to understand why that is. We've been trying to understand why that is for quite a while, so if we can get that dialed in, we've proven we can win races. Anytime we have a shot at it, we tend to finish the job. So, (we will) just keep trying to continue to put ourselves in positions to win races.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the approach to Sunday’s race in Phoenix: “Really similar. Obviously, they always talk about racing the playoff guys with respect and I don't think we race anybody with disrespect. So, whether you're in playoffs or not, I don't think it should matter. Obviously, you know, things happen on the racetrack and intentional or not intentional, we will be truthful about it. There was a time in the last few years Alex made a move and it was intentional and he owned up to it, so track record should speak for that. Phoenix, we have two teammates in in there, we have a guy we just had some controversy with, so I don't expect us to race Denny any differently, as well as our teammates any differently, than we have all year. For a position to win the race, it really comes down to whoever wants to go for second, right? In the end, we're never going to put ourselves in a situation to ruin those guys’ opportunity to win a championship because we know at some point we’ll be in that same scenario and (will) want to get raced exactly how they would. So, in in the end, we're just going to go out there have a nice, calm, clean race, hopefully a fast car, and let the driving and the speed dictate itself.”