Concord, North Carolina (February 16, 2017) – There are few venues in sports which stand-alone and bring out the raw emotion of anticipation and excitement quite like Daytona. Eighteen-year old driver Noah Gragson is about to experience that moment with his first career start at the World Center of Racing in this weekend’s ARCA Racing Series season-opener.
Gragson, a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, will make his highly anticipated first start behind the wheel of Venturini Motorsport’s No.55 Musselman’s BIG CUP Apple Sauce Toyota Camry in Saturday’s Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway.
“This is a dream come true,” says Gragson. “There’s probably no other track in the world that commands this much attention – ever. Between late January with the Rolex 24 and the running of the Daytona 500, this track becomes the center of the racing universe. It’s just simply and honor to be here and have this opportunity. It’s humbling and hard to explain just how much I appreciate the support I’ve received leading up to this moment.”
Gragson received his first taste of Daytona last month during the series’ open test session where he topped the overall speed chart with a time of 47.583 seconds, an average of 189.143 mph. Gragson’s fast lap around the 2.5mile superspeedway was top among 63 drivers who posted time at the test.
“We had a really solid test,” says Gragson. “This 55-team comes prepared each and every week – It showed back in January and I have no doubt it will show again this week with our Musselman’s Big Cup Toyota. VMS does their homework and they’ve always stood out during these restrictor plate races. With Billy Venturini as my crew chief, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with come race time.”
Although untested on the high banks, Gragson doesn’t have to look far for Daytona advice.
“I’m really fortunate to have a lot of great people in my corner. I’ve watched a lot of film and spent a lot of time talking with Kyle (Busch) and Billy (Venturini) lately. These guys have been there plenty and offer great advice. What sticks out most is something Billy said about the importance of track position. These ARCA races are a lot shorter than the NASCAR races so staying focused, making good pit stops and not making any mistakes on the track are the keys to success and will ultimately give you a shot at the end.”
“I’ve also leaned on my buddy Brandon McReynolds who won an ARCA race at Talladega. He’s given me a lot of information on what to expect in the big pack with these ARCA cars. I’m like a sponge – I’m all ears, any solid information I can soak up will hopefully give me an advantage.”
The ARCA season-opener marks just the beginning for Gragson and his speedweeks schedule. Driving full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), Gragson will make his Daytona truck debut the following Friday behind the wheel of KBM’s Switch Toyota Tundra.
Another first, Musselman’s Apple Sauce will make their maiden voyage with Venturini Motorsports and Gragson at Daytona as part of their newly formed partnership. Earlier this month VMS announced the addition of Musselman’s for full primary branding in twelve races and associate branding across eight more. Combined, Gragson, Zane Smith, Tom Hessert, Raphaël Lessard, Tanner Thorson and Christopher Bell will carry Musselman’s banner throughout the season on their Toyota Camrys.
Venturini Motorsports entering its 35th year of ARCA Series competition, looks to return to Daytona’s Gatorade Victory Lane for the second time in the past four years. In 2013, driver John Wes Townley delivered the team’s sole Daytona victory. VMS, the well-known ARCA fixture has compiled 43 series victories overall – 30 wins coming since 2008.
ABOUT MUSSELMAN’S APPLE SAUCE
A family tradition, deeply rooted in quality.
Musselman’s BIG CUP satisfies appetites of teens and adults with active lifestyles, while Musselman’s Squeezables is the healthy snack Mom can provide to her children who are on-the-go.
Musselman’s was founded in Biglerville, PA, in 1907 by Christian and Emma Musselman. The original plants in Biglerville and Gardners, PA, provided much needed canned goods for the servicemen during WWI including corn, tomatoes, and of course apples. They focused on the processing of the abundant local fruit in the area, producing apple sauce, apple juice, and their now-famous Musselman’s Apple Butter.
In 1984 the C. H. Musselman Company was purchased by a cooperative of local fruit growers (Knouse Foods, Inc.). The Musselman’s name, which reflects quality, tradition and value was preserved and remains a thriving brand today under the ownership of the growers who still tend to their fruit orchards. Knouse Foods, Inc., established as a growers’ co-op in 1949, has a long history of providing outstanding fruit products. They believe making healthy, delicious fruit products is more than just a job; it’s a way of life. And that’s why the growers who have spent their entire lives nurturing their orchards and harvesting their fruit also own the company. That pride and care are the key ingredients that make Knouse fruit products the very best.
For more information visit www.Musselmans.com.
ABOUT VENTURINI MOTORSPORTS:
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30-years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. Multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports. Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Erik Jones, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman, Brian Scott, Ryan Blaney, Brennan Poole, Daniel Suarez, and Brandon Jones. Over the years the Venturini name has become synonymous with modern-day racing in America. In 2012, the Venturini family was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (www.NIASHF.org) and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.