Road courses have dealt an ugly hand to JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson in 2021, and the first practice session at Road America is continuing that trend.
As Gragson was on track during Friday’s session, the engine of the No. 9 Camaro failed, bringing the session to a red flag with 37 minutes left in practice. Gragson was able to lay down one lap with a time of 2:18.
The Las Vegas driver came over the radio and diagnosed the issue as engine failure according to NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman.
“It sounded kind of off – the pitch of the motor – from when we rolled out,” Gragson told Kligerman after getting out of the car. “Ran pace laps, and then only did one lap. But [I] didn’t miss a shift or anything.”
The broadcast showed an engine and transmission being taken out of teammate Justin Allgaier’s hauler as Gragson rolled back to pit road.
It seems like the 22-year-old cannot shake the bad luck, with every road course race in the 2021 season featuring an issue. Back at the Daytona road course in February, the No. 9 Camaro failed to fire at the start of the race and started the race two laps down. At COTA in May, Gragson made an early exit after another engine failure, just 13 laps in. More recently at Mid-Ohio, Gragson was involved in on-track contact on Lap 1, in Turn 1.
The good news in all of this is that Gragson has solid finishes at Road America. In two starts at the road course with JR Motorsports, Gragson finished fourth in 2019, and sixth in 2020.
The team is expected to make an engine change in preparation for Xfinity Series qualifying on Saturday, at 11:35 a.m. Television coverage begins at noon on NBCSN.