The series of 12 Questions interviews continues with Noah Gragson, who drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series. Gragson is currently fifth in the series standings after the first four races. This interview is recorded as a podcast, but is transcribed below for those who prefer to read.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
Probably six out of seven nights.
Really? That’s a lot.
A lot. I’m always dreaming about racing. Like daydreaming, too — I always am daydreaming. Like that’s 24/7. I’m thinking about racing all the time.
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
Yeah, I think so. I mean if it’s intentional, then you just throw them the bird out the window and keep on digging. And if it’s not, then I’m the first to come up and say that I made a mistake and just own up for my actions and my mistakes. So yeah, I definitely think owning up for what you did wrong is definitely crucial.
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
That they thought I did a good job. That’s probably a good one.
That’s not that much of a compliment.
It is to me, because I try my best and I want to do my best. So if somebody’s saying that I do a good job, then it’s coming off good. So that’s key.
4. NASCAR comes to you and says, “Hey, we are bringing a celebrity to the race and we’re wondering if you have time to say hi.” Who is a celebrity you’d be really excited to host?
I’m a huge fan of his.
You never met him when he was doing NASCAR?
Well I wasn’t in NASCAR, I was racing Bandoleros.
Didn’t he make a Truck start last year?
Yeah, I met him last year and I got to ride in the van with him to the autograph session. I was fan-boying the whole time, so that was really cool. And then probably if I could meet him again, I want to, just to hang out. I’m a huge fan of Travis Pastrana.
Could you not get the words out last year or something?
Nah, I was just trying to not say a whole lot — just listen to him — because I was just in awe. I just look up to him and try to role-model myself after him.
5. In an effort to show they are health-conscious, NASCAR offers the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for a month. Would you do it?
Hell no. I’ll take pit stall No. 2 all day. No vegan for me. I love my junk food and everything.
6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I have picked a random race from your career and you have to guess where you finished. This is the 2016 K&N West race at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino. Where did you finish?
The answer is third.
Hell yeah. I started second.
You started second. You led two laps. Chris Eggleston won. Your buddy Gracin Raz was second, and you finished ahead of Todd Gilliland. What do you remember about that race?
I remember missing the pole barely to Ryan Partridge. And then I was on the outside of the front row; it’s a real tight racetrack. A lot of cautions. I was on the outside on like pretty much all the restarts and then Gracin got me there at the end.
Ryan Partridge was also up front with Chris Eggleston. I think it was Ryan Partridge, Chris Eggleston, then me. And then there was a lapper, Rich DeLong Sr., we were lapping him and Ryan Partridge went low, Chris Eggleston went high, and then Ryan Partridge got taken out for the lead. So that was a big points implication deal for that race. I think it was the third or fourth race of the season.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
I don’t know.
You’re not into rap?
I’m into rap and I like listening to those rap songs, but I don’t know any of the rappers’ names. I just listen for the beats and the songs. I don’t know. Like Drake’s pretty good. I don’t know all those guys.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
I’m gonna get in trouble for saying this, but probably Austin Cindric.
Just his face, or do you actually want to punch him?
I actually want to punch him. I just don’t like him.
No, I take that back. Austin, he’s not P1. Justin Haley is. I would rock him. And I about did, after he talked a bunch of trash on me after Phoenix (when Gragson wrecked and Haley crashed into him in November). And then I saw him last year, like in person, because I don’t like to get into it on Twitter. I like face to face. And so Justin, if you’re gonna be reading this, it’s coming one day, buddy.
I’ve still got one on him. It’s coming. That’s the only person I’ll ever say that about, too.
I can’t tell if you’re serious or not.
I’m dead serious. I do not like that kid with a passion. Sorry, fans, if you like him. I can’t stand him.
9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.
What does Tom Hanks do?
He’s an actor. A movie actor.
Oh. Like what movie?
He was in Cast Away, where he was on the island with the volleyball.
Not a clue.
He was in Forrest Gump!
That’s him? OK.
I don’t know. Definitely not LeBron, LeBron can drive the motorhome cause he won’t know what the hell is going on. Taylor Swift has a nice voice, so she’d be the spotter. And she can sing to me.
During the race?
During the race. And then Tom Hanks can be the crew chief. He seems like a pretty smart guy. (Does Forrest Gump impression) Jenny!
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
The closest one. When you’re going to driver intros, you’ve kinda got to scout out the land and see, “Alright, there’s one right there. But if I’m getting out of the truck after we go around the racetrack for the wave lap, we’re gonna end up here. So there might be one closer down there.” So it’s crucial. That’s a big deal. If I gotta pee an hour before the race, I try and save it as long as I can for that one last hurrah.
11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win?
You’d do it for free?
I’ve tried it. I used to race Bandoleros, and I started winning a few races out in Las Vegas. I got pretty ahead of myself there, and I’m like, “Man, I’m winning all these races, I’m the guy at the (LVMS) Bullring.” But they’re racing Super Late Models there and Bandoleros are nothing. So I’m like, “I’m gonna learn how to backflip.”
12. Each week, I ask a question given to me from the last interview. Last week, I interviewed Christopher Bell. He wants to know: What drives you to race? What motivates you?
Just all the hard work that everyone puts in, and when you can have a good run and people notice that and the team notices that. I like seeing all of the joy and smiles on everyone’s faces, and that’s what I love about it. It’s an addiction to be racing. We all do it for one reason and that’s ultimately to win. But for me, I like seeing all that hard work pay off. I know how much time and effort goes in to building these race cars, how much time these crew guys are away from their families, away from their kids, away from home. So I feel like that’s the magic here to all of this, is if you can get into victory lane, everything is worth it.
Do you have a question I can ask the next driver?
Does NASCAR need more road courses?