Richard Petty Hires Driver That Dale Jr. Said 'Crossed Line' Earlier This Year

Noah Gragson will drive the No. 42 Chevy for Richard Petty Motorsports beginning next season, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

Gragson currently drives for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports Xfinity Series team and is considered one of the top young prospects in NASCAR.

The 24-year-old has eight wins over the past three seasons and finished third in the standings last year.

Gragson will replace Ty Dillon, who announced last month he would not return next season.

“We’re excited to have Noah join the Petty GMS family and climb in the No. 42 next season,” said the 85-year-old Petty. “Noah’s proven he can win in the Truck and Xfinity Series and compete for championships, and we know he will bring that same fire with him to Petty GMS next season.”

Gragson causes huge pileup at NASCAR Road America race

Gragson has already made nine Cup Series starts this season for two separate teams with a best finish of 18th at Kansas Speedway in Matt Kaulig’s No. 16 Chevy, which he is sharing with teammates Hemric and AJ Allmendinger.

Last month, Gragson intentionally wrecked Sage Karam during a race at Road America, taking out 13 cars in the process.

During a Sirius XM interview the following week, Earnhardt Jr. said Gragson's actions clearly "crossed a line."

“He needs to take that out of his toolbox," Junior added. "He cannot be intentionally turning into guys on the straightaway. Whether he’s driving a Cup car for us one day or someone else, when he makes those type of decisions, and this is what I told him, I said, ‘You’re hurting that opportunity, you’re tarnishing, staining your reputation.’

“I told him that I could stand behind him through just about anything, but I could not defend that. And that’s a difficult thing for me. That’s a difficult position for me.”


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Zach grew up in Florida, lives in Florida, and will never leave Florida ... for obvious reasons. He's a reigning fantasy football league champion, knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, and once passed out (briefly!) during a lap around Daytona. He swears they were going 200 mph even though they clearly were not.