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After learning in late May that Noah Gragson admitted Stewart-Haas Racing could close at the end of the current NASCAR season, he weighed in on what to do next year. He figured he’d found both a home in SHR and proved he deserved a spot in the Cup Series.

The stress and frustration that Gragson experienced is gone. On Wednesday, Front Row Motorsports announced it had signed Gregson to a multi-year deal to join the Championship team from the 2025 season.

“Maybe in the last month and a half, two months, I let it eat me up more than I wanted to,” Gragson said. The athletics. “Man, I’m constantly thinking about what’s going to happen next year, and it takes up so much of my time, effort, and energy that it’s hard for me to focus. It costs more to talk about what’s going to happen next year and it takes away from my performance on the track.

“I feel like I’m fully focused on racing, which is good. Now that we’ve signed this deal, I can go back and focus on what it takes to win on Sunday.”

As Gragson weighed the potential, what jumped out at him about Front Row was how Bob Jenkins’ team had made significant performance gains in recent years.

Front Row wins the 2021 Daytona 500 with Michael McDowell to earn a playoff spot. McDowell followed up with a more consistent season the following year, winning for the second time in the 2023 season. And in the year Third-year teammate Todd Gilliland is having a career-best season.

“(Gragson) must have seen this as a good and viable option to be in (the car), which will be competitive for years to come. We are grateful for that,” said Front Rw General Manager Jerry Freeze. The athletics.

“Obviously, his performance on the track speaks for itself with his success in the Truck Series and then the Xfinity Series. We think he is the total package to come to Front Row Motorsports and build a great program around him for years to come.

Based on performance alone, the front row proved a good fit for Gragson. But what stood out was the calmness.

As the 25-year-old navigated the free agency process to find his fourth team in four years, he found a place he knew was committed to staying in NASCAR and provided him with the structure he felt he needed. It needs to grow along the way. SRR owner Tony Stewart didn’t want to overshadow the uproar he made when the team told him it was closing.

“The most important thing was to find a place where I could run for many years and put my foot down and make it my home,” Gragson said.

In both his words and actions, Jenkins’ commitment to NASCAR team ownership is evident.

A day after SHR announced it would sell all four of its charters, the NASCAR franchise announced that it has purchased a third charter for Front Row for $20 million to $25 million, guaranteeing some of the cash prizes attached to it. He was not allowed to give a brief description of the situation. One doesn’t make such a hefty sum without planning to stick around.

“Bob is committed to the sport and to see him invest in their charter shows his desire to invest in the growth of the team and build it,” said Gragson. “I’ve seen them grow each and every year and I want to be a part of that cycle with them in that building process.”

The fact that Gragson has signed shows that he will continue to move forward for the upcoming row. Pursuing a talent like Gragson is a departure from the way the team typically operates, often signing veteran drivers to massive team-friendly deals or promoting from within, as it did three years ago when it promoted Gilliland from its Truck Series program to the Cup.

“I don’t know that we were really in a position to do this, whether it was money or the support we had on Front Row,” Freeze said. “Knowing that we’re on Ford’s Tier 1 platform, that we have a long-term relationship with Ford, and our relationship with Penske gives us a great opportunity to be able to get someone like Noah. He’s had a lot of upside and some great credentials to this point.”

But Gragson’s signing, just as Front Row is now one of Ford’s most heavily supported teams, shows how much Front Row wants to build on its recent successes.

Front Row is expanding to field three full-time teams by 2025. With McDowell moving to Spire Motorsports, the front-row driver line-up will be Gillian, Gregson, who signed a multi-year contract extension last month, and the team’s third driver not to do so. It has yet to be agreed but I hope to have it done by August 1st.

“It’s definitely more fun to go to a race when you have a chance to have a good day,” Freeze said. “It’s definitely been a boost for me personally, and a real shot in the arm for the whole organization. And I still think it adds credibility.

With Gragson now in the fold, the front row’s next task is finalizing sponsorships and who will serve as his team boss, neither of which were announced Wednesday.

If he had the choice, Gregson would prefer current head coach Drew Blickensdorfer to follow him from SHR. The veteran Blickensdorfer has formed a strong relationship with Gragson, providing leadership and stability to the young driver. Friz Blickensdorfer, who was McDowell’s crew chief for three years at Front Row, is on the shortlist.

Who will lead Gregson’s team is a list that will be tweaked in the coming weeks and months. Big Domino was keeping Gragson under contract, a decision that brought her much-needed relief.

“I probably let it eat me more than it needed to eat me, I mean it should have, but not as much as it did,” Gragson said. “I don’t want to worry, ‘Hey, what are the different options?’

“Almost everything I do is about, ‘Is this going to help me or hurt me?’ I’m thinking about different organizations (maybe signing me) that I have some connection with, whether it’s racing at the race track, and what would it hurt if I raced this guy and got in? So signing everything off definitely allowed me to take that weight off my shoulders and focus on what I can control, and that’s in the race car.

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(Photo: Meg Oliphant / Getty Images)