NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Noah Gragson will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 in his second-ever attempt next February, as it was announced Tuesday the 23-year-old would return to Beard Motorsports for another shot at qualifying into “The Great American Race”.
Gragson attempted last season’s Daytona 500 for the part-time organization, shortly after the death of the team’s founder, Mark Beard Sr, but was unable to make the race after being collected in a multi-car accident at the end of his qualifying race.
The team was excluded from the other three superspeedway events last season because of the series’ mandate of no practice or qualifying.
Beard Motorsports’ No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro will once again run as an unchartered/open entry in the season-opener at Daytona, as the team only plans to compete in four NASCAR Cup Series races throughout the season.
“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 same motivation is echoed by Mark Beard Jr, who helps his sister Amie manage the organization.
“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 is equipped with a similar mindset, as he looks to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the biggest event of the season, in one of the biggest seasons in recent memory, with the implementation of the Next Gen car.
“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 the team in its efforts this season will be Brendan Gaughan, the former NASCAR Cup Series driver who finished his career at NASCAR’s top-level with Beard Motorsports. Gaughan now serves as the 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 makes a partial schedule work in the NASCAR Cup Series by taking a strategic approach to all its endeavors. The team only employs one person full-time, crew chief Darren Shaw, while utilizing an alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
2022 will mark the fourth full-time season for Gragson in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, in which time he’s collected five career victories and a career-best third-place finish in final point standings.