Noah Gragson knew Stewart-Haas closure was coming but news was still a blow

MADISON, ILLINOIS - JUNE 01: Noah Gragson, driver of the #10 SERVPRO Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 01, 2024 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

In his heart, Noah Gragson knew the news was coming, but the actual announcement that Stewart-Haas Racing was shutting down at the end of the season still struck like a body blow.

On Tuesday, when team co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas told their employees of the impending closure, rumor became reality.

“You see all the rumors, and you kind of hear different rumors and whatnot,” Gragson said Saturday at World Wide Technology Raceway. “If it just came out cold turkey and you didn’t hear anything about it, it would be like ‘Whoa!’

“But we kind of saw it coming a little bit, so it didn’t hit us as hard, but when you hear those words from Tony, it’s a little different from seeing it on social media—when it’s a reality.”

In his first season at Stewart-Haas, Gragson is well on his way to rehabilitating his career after drawing a NASCAR suspension and losing his ride at Legacy Motor Club for “liking” a racially insensitive post on social media last year.

Gragson has scored five top-10 results in 14 starts this season, including a best result of third at Talladega in April. Last year he had no top 10s in 21 starts with Legacy.
It would be naïve to suggest that Gragson hasn’t started to think about where he’ll land in 2025. Nevertheless, he’s determined to make the most of the remainder of the current season.

“I keep on preaching to our guys and our group that we can only control what we can control,” said Gragson, who won eight NASCAR Xfinity Series races with JR Motorsports in 2022 before moving to NASCAR’s top division.

“We have an opportunity this weekend, and we’re not even halfway through the season yet. “We have a lot more races and weekends to enjoy together and to become a race team that’s championship level.”