LAS VEGAS — Not only is Noah Gragson improving on the race track, but the 21-year-old NASCAR Xfinity Series driver is dedicating time to improve personally, as well.
Gragson has been working with a personal trainer and former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Josh Wise to ensure he‘s healthy physically while exercising his mind, as well. During the Indianapolis race weekend, Gragson picked up a book entitled “25 Ways To Win With People” in search of enhancing his overall attitude.
It‘s a monster task that takes hard work, but Gragson is ready to fight for it since a motivational attitude doesn’t come naturally.
“I have to make an effort,” Gragson said. “Ultimately, just be a better leader and that‘s what I need to be for this race team. It‘s really easy to be happy and smile when things are going good, but I feel like your true character comes out when maybe things aren‘t going as well as you‘d want.
“So, trying to lean on people who I call my mentors,” he added. “I‘ve been doing a lot of that, reading that book and trying to be better and more positive. I feel like you can never be too positive and that‘s what I‘m focusing on right now.”
One of those mentors happens to be JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., as the two have developed more than just a driver-owner relationship during Gragson’s first full-time Xfinity Series tour.
According to Gragson, Earnhardt isn‘t one to micromanage his employees, instead taking a step back and allowing those he hired to thrive in a championship-capable environment. But Earnhardt is always there for Gragson when he needs a broader perspective while making an effort to boost his maturation process.
“He (Earnhardt) helps me see the overall picture of everything,” Gragson said. “I might get caught up in the moment and wondering why this is happening or why is that happening. I‘ve been able to grow a friendship with him that‘s been very valuable. We‘ve become good friends throughout this year. I‘m really lucky to be able to lean on him.”
And what if he told you he and Earnhardt even have something in common?
“Being able to lean on him has been really key for myself,” Gragson said. “I think we‘re really similar. I know it might not look like that, but our personalities are maybe not to the outside world similar, but we communicate very similarly.”
Gragson already is locked into the Xfinity Series Playoffs heading into the regular-season finale in Saturday‘s Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and he has finished 10th or better in eight of the last nine races.
That‘s motivational and something to smile about for Gragson heading into his first Xfinity postseason.