first_imgBeard Motorsports announced Thursday that NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Noah Gragson will drive its No. 62 Chevrolet in a bid for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 14.Gragson, who drives full-time in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports, will attempt to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the 500-mile crown jewel (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). The 22-year-old driver has already had success at Daytona International Speedway, claiming his first Xfinity triumph in last year’s season opener.RELATED: On the Move: Changes for 2021The move keeps the organization’s connection to Las Vegas drivers intact. Brendan Gaughan retired from his part-time driving schedule with the Beard Motorsports group last year. According to the team’s publicists, the 45-year-old veteran was involved in selecting Gragson as his successor.“I’m excited and humbled to have this opportunity with Beard Motorsports,” Gragson said in a team release. “As a young racer from Las Vegas, I had always dreamt of racing in the Daytona 500. I’m very appreciative of the faith the Beard family and Brendan have in me, and equally appreciative to JR Motorsports for allowing me to pull double duty and compete for them in the Xfinity Series and also Beard Motorsports while we’re down in Daytona.”Gragson returns for his third season in JRM’s No. 9 Chevy this year. Last season, he scored two victories (Daytona, Bristol) and advanced to the Round of 8 in the Xfinity Series Playoffs.JAYSKI: Speculative entry list for 2021 Daytona 500 Beard Motorsports, which shares a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, has focused its efforts on superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega in recent years. Gaughan helped the No. 62 team cash in on those occasional starts, sweeping to top-10 finishes in both Daytona events last season.“I loved racing for the Beard Family and even though I’m retired, I’m honored to be a part of their team and I’m very protective of what they’ve built,” Gaughan said. “I’ve known Noah a long time and I know he’s a very good race car driver who is ready to do some Cup racing. Just as importantly, he takes good care of his equipment and he’s there at the end of races. In his entire Xfinity Series career, he’s only had four DNFs. That’s important no matter who you’re racing for, but it’s especially important for Beard Motorsports.“I’m proud to see Noah have this opportunity and proud to see another Las Vegas guy in the NASCAR Cup Series.”Gragson becomes just the second driver in Beard Motorsports’ existence. The team has made just 17 Cup Series appearances since its 2017 debut, with all but a one-off road-course event last season happening at superspeedways. Gaughan netted top-10 results in four of those 17 starts.“Racing is our passion project,” said team owner Mark Beard Sr. “Even with Brendan’s retirement, we wanted to keep racing. We’ve accomplished a lot with the resources we have and we’re proud to give Noah the chance to chase his dream just like we chase ours.”Before his move to the Xfinity Series, Gragson was a two-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series. He finished runner-up in the 2018 standings. He also has seven wins in what is now called the ARCA Menards Series East and West tours, and has prestigious Late Model wins to his credit, including the 2017 Winchester 400 and the 2018 Snowball Derby.“When you’re racing Late Models and trying to work your way up, the Daytona 500 seems pretty far away,” Gragson said. “To have it become a reality is something I don’t take lightly. I’m ready for this moment and I’m proud to have it.”last_img read more

first_imgPENSACOLA, Fla. – The West Florida baseball team announced six early signees for the 2015-16 academic year.The Argos added Northwest Florida State transfer JT Granat, Pace High School product Tyler Sharp and central Florida high school standouts Matt Sullivan, Troy Brown, Cole Crowder, and Robert Lopez.”I think we did a great job addressing our needs for the next several years with five high school signees and one junior college pitcher,” UWF coach Mike Jeffcoat said. “We have two left-handed and two right-handed pitchers and hopefully our shortstop and catcher of the future. Assistant Head Coach Shane Gierke did a great job identifying those needs and helping set up some young guys coming through our program for the future as well as a junior impact guy.”Newcomers (6)JT Granat – 6’4” – 220 lbs. – RHP – Northwest Florida StateQuote from Gierke: “He’s a big, strong right-handed pitcher who went to Tate High School. We think he can be a rotation guy right away. He’s a three-pitch guy with a good sinker ball that will give you a chance to win every time.”Tyler Sharp – 6’1” – 175 lbs. – SS/RHP – Pace HSQuote from Gierke: “He’s a three-year starter at shortstop at Pace High School, and he’s a right-handed pitcher. We like his bat, and think he’s going to develop into a nice arm on the mound. But when it comes to swinging the bat, he has a chance to do some things as a freshman.”Matt Sullivan – 5’11” – 190 lbs. – C – Dr. Phillips HSQuote from Gierke: “A big focus of ours is trying to find a freshman catcher to come in and have a chance to play right away. Mike Bradley, the head coach at Dr. Phillips High School, is a great friend who does a great job, and his assistant coach is UWF hall of famer Pete Antoske. So anytime we can get someone from Dr. Phillips it’s always a plus.”Cole Crowder – 6’3” – 210 lbs. – LHP/1B – George Jenkins HSQuote from Gierke: “He’s a dual guy who plays pitcher and first base. We think he’s got a huge future on the mound as a left-handed pitcher. He has a good overhand breaking ball. We really like his frame and what he brings to the future on the mound.”Robert Lopez – 6’1” – 180 lbs. – SS – George Jenkins HSQuote from Gierke: “He’s a strong, physical shortstop who has a lot of pop in his bat. He’s got a lot of potential to do big things with the bat. We expect big things from him as a freshman.”Troy Brown – 6’3” – 200 lbs. – LHP – Lakeland HSQuote from Gierke: “He’s another big left-handed pitcher who has a chance to pitch right away for us in a big role. We think his ceiling as a pitcher is really high. His fastball can get up to 88 miles per hour.”For information on all UWF athletics, visit  #ARGOS#Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more