Noah Gragson out at Sonoma with concussion-like symptoms; Grant Enfinger to sub

MADISON, ILLINOIS - JUNE 04: Noah Gragson, driver of the #42 Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet, spins after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Noah Gragson will not be racing at Sonoma this weekend after suffering concussion-like symptoms following a crash last week at World Wide Technology Raceway.

The crash happened late in the Cup series race last Sunday. Gragson was initially evaluated and released from the infield care center. The team said Thursday however, that after returning home Gragson started suffering symptoms mid-week and is seeking treatment.

The team said that GMS Racing and NASCAR Truck Series veteran Grant Enfinger will drive the No. 42 this weekend.

“Noah’s health is the highest of priorities and we commend him for making the decision to sit out this weekend,” said team co-owners Maury Gallagher and Jimmie Johnson. “We are appreciative that Grant was available and willing to step in since the Truck Series is off this weekend.”

Enfinger is the 2015 ARCA Menards Series champion, the 38-year-old will be making first career start in the NASCAR Cup Series. He is a nine-time winner in the NASCAR Truck Series and has won twice already this season, most recently winning last weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway.

“My thoughts are with Noah, I know how much he loves this team and the guys on it,” said Enfinger. “I’m happy to help out Legacy Motor Club and the No. 42 team.”

Gragson joins a list of recent drivers who have missed races due to concussion-like symptoms including Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch. Bowman missed several races last season, and Busch retired early and is still being treated after a crash at Pocono last season.

Thursday NASCAR released a list of safety improvements to its Next Gen car. Some involve the areas that led to the crashes that caused the injuries to Bowman and Busch. Others were called for after a hard crash between Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece at the most recent race at Talladega.

“We’ve taken a lot of the steel structural members and removed material from key elements to make this structure less stiff,” said Dr. John Patalak, vice president of safety engineering at NASCAR. “We have slots on both sides, we have deleted some cross members between the upright mounts and we’ve treated some of the areas down low that are some of the first to contact the wall on the front clip. We’ve also added slots to this ballast container as well as some holes, and it’s all an effort to increase the amount of displacement we’re getting out of the car and to reduce the accelerations that the driver is experiencing.”

The new requirements will be mandated by the Atlanta race on July 9.

Greg Engle