June 19, 2018, St. Louis Region – Coming off an exciting second-place finish at Iowa Speedway in Newton last week, Noah Gragson and his No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team is headed to Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois for Saturday’s Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power. Gragson made what he called a “video game” move in the final corner of last week’s race, when he dove to the bottom of the track into Turn 3 and exited Turn 4 ahead of leader Brett Moffitt. Unfortunately, the momentum from the move carried him into the outside wall on the exit of Turn 4 and Moffitt was able to reclaim the lead before they crossed the finish line to bring home the victory.
Gragson and his No. 18 team were one of three teams which participated in Goodyear’s two-day tire test at Gateway in April. The test was conducted because the 1.25-mile track was repaved immediately following last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. The Las Vegas native is hoping the extra track time will help him improve on his result from last year’s race. Despite qualifying seventh, he was forced to start from the rear of the field after his team repaired left-side damage sustained when he got hit by another competitor on pit road during qualifying. He was able to work his way inside the top five late in the race before falling back a few spots in the closing laps and ending the day with a ninth-place finish.
With his runner-up finish at Iowa, Gragson maintained second place in the Truck Series championship standings. He enters this week’s race 71 points behind leader Johnny Sauter.
After coming so close to a victory last week are you motivated to get back to the track this week and go for another win?
“Almost getting the win last week was definitely a confidence booster for me — knowing that I’m going to do whatever it takes to get the win. If it means that I’m going to get into the wall just a little bit there on that last lap to be in contention and really put it all on the line, that’s all I can really do as a driver and I hope I make my team proud. I’m very fortunate to have a team that sticks behind me and is proud of me to put it all out there on the line and contend for the win.”
After participating in the Goodyear tire test, do you think that the racing at Gateway will be similar to what it has been in the past?
“With the Goodyear tire test, I was able to go to Gateway for two days and test a few different sets of tires and really learn the new race track. The configuration is the same, but it’s definitely a lot smoother with this new asphalt. I think it will be a little bit more narrower of a racing line, but I think it will be close to the same kind of racing. Three and four will be very sketchy — very one lined — but I think one and two it’ll be pretty close to the same as last year, maybe just a couple feet less wide.”
How does racing on a flat track compare to racing on a track with banking?
“Flat tracks are kind of tough, you really have to have a good handling race vehicle. Especially at Gateway, where its very line sensitive — you don’t have a lot of room to move around, it’s very one-laned. I feel like it makes it harder on the driver. It’s going to be tough to pass — that’s for sure. I feel like the banked tracks that are a little bit more wore out it gives you more options to move around — like last weekend at Iowa we can go to the bottom, we can go to the middle, we can go to the top. With Gateway’s asphalt being so new, it’s very single lined and it’s going to be tough to race side by side. Push might come to shove at the end of these races and the bumpers might be caved in — we’ll see.”
The Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is scheduled for Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. CDT. Adult tickets start at just $35 and military discounts are available. Kids 15 and under are free when accompanied by a paid adult. To purchase tickets or obtain additional information, please call Gateway Motorsports Park at (618) 215-8888. Follow GMP on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
Friday, June 22
10 a.m. — Spectator gates open.
Noon-1 p.m. — ARCA Papa Nicholas 150 practice.
1:30-2:30 p.m. — Final ARCA Papa Nicholas 150 practice.
2:35-3:25 p.m. — NASCAR Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power practice.
4:35-5:25 p.m. — Second NASCAR Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power practice.
5:30-6:30 p.m. — ARCA Papa Nicholas 150 qualifying.
6:35-7:25 p.m. — Final NASCAR Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power practice.
7:30 p.m. — ARCA Papa Nicholas 150 driver introductions.
8 p.m. — ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Papa Nicholas 150 (120 laps, 150 miles).
Saturday, June 23
11:30 a.m. — Parking lots open.
Noon — Spectator gates open, Gateway Kartplex open.
3 p.m. — Rumble Before the Roar opens: $20 pre-race party.
3-3:45 p.m. — NASCAR Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power autograph session.
3:30-3:45 p.m. — Vintage Indy car hot laps.
4:45-5:30 p.m. — NASCAR Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power qualifying.
6 p.m. — Vintage Indy car exhibition.
7 p.m. — Last call at Rumble Before the Roar.
7 p.m. — NASCAR Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power driver introductions.
7:30 p.m. – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power (160 laps, 200 miles). Hashtag: #VillaEaton200
About Gateway Motorsports Park
Gateway Motorsports Park is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. Gateway Motorsports Park’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue. Gateway Motorsports Park was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from St. Louis Attractions Association.