Noah Gragson waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 05, 2022
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In the Company of Legends: Noah Gragson Is Gearing Up for the "Biggest Step in My Driving Career"

On November 4, 2022, Jimmie Johnson purchased an ownership stake in Petty GMS, which was previously owned by NASCAR legend Richard Petty and entrepreneur Maury Gallagher. A couple months later, the NASCAR Cup Series team was rebranded as Legacy Motor Club. The name checks out: Johnson and Petty have 14 championships between the two of them. When it comes just service-level optics, the pairing has dominance written all over it. Rookie Cup driver Noah Gragson is well aware of how fortunate he is to be teaming up with two of NASCAR's greats, and the 24-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native will be looking to take full advantage of the special opportunity.

"It will be great," Gragson said during an event in New York earlier this year. "They're great mentors and leaders. There's a lot of great qualities in those two guys. They're obviously champions of the sport, but I think there's more to the day-to-day stuff, learning how to become the best version of myself and the best driver that I can be. I definitely have two great resources to lean on."

Gragson spent four full-time seasons in the Xfinity Series, which he spent the entirety of driving the No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. He has a total of 13 wins and 96 top-10 finishes in NASCAR's second-tier circuit, with his best season being in 2022 when he won eight races and finished second in the standings. Though, coming into the Cup Series, Gragson knows he'll be dealing with a whole different beast entirely.

"Stepping up the ladder is probably the biggest step I'll ever take in my driving career in terms of competition," Gragson said. "I know what it's like to be in Xfinity, and there's a new guy who can bully him around. Me being the rookie, I'm going into it trying to finish every lap and every race. I need to earn these guys' respect. If we can improve every week and every race, we can become better than the week before and that's the progress I want to make."

Gragson's teammates at LMC will be third-year driver Erik Jones and Johnson himself, who will be running a part-time schedule. Gragson does have some experience in the Next Gen car, as he ran 18 Cup races in 2022 (three with Beard Motorsports, 10 with Kaulig Racing, and five with Hendrick Motorsports). Limited experience aside, 2023 will be a huge test for the soon-to-be driver of the No. 42 Chevy.

"We have good people and good energy leading into the season," Gragson said. "I have great teammates. I'm excited with how this team has grown from when I first signed and what it's grown to and where we can get it to."

"I think we need to set the goals pretty low. The main goal needs to be to finish every race and get experience. It's going to be tough, no doubt. If we can grow and keep learning, that's what I'm excited to see."

MORE: Chaos in Atlanta: A Botched Pit Stop Led to This Interview-Interrupting Fight