NASCAR’s social distancing protocols were not being followed by two drivers Friday night. Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson came to blows after they were involved in an on-track incident in the final laps of Friday night’s NASCAR Xfinity series race at Kentucky Speedway.
On lap 180 of 200 Gragson’s No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet got into the rear of Burton’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Burton clipped the outside wall because of the contact, as did Gragson. Both were running inside the top 10 at the time. Gragson finished seventh. Burton held on for 12th.
After the race the two faced off and words were exchanged by the cars. Burton appeared to push Gragson twice, who then threw the first punch. NASCAR officials stepped in to break the fight up.
Burton, 19, later said Friday night’s incident was not the first time Gragson, 21, had derailed a decent finish for him and admitted the physical altercation was just a matter of irritation. He had been on pace for a top-5 finish before the contact.
“Just frustrated,” Burton said. “This has been two times since we’ve come back from the COVID-19 pandemic on restarts. Same situation. We rallied all night to get our DEX Imaging Supra into fourth place and then the 9 (Noah Gragson) happens to start in third and I don’t know if he forgets what race track we’re at or what, but both times puts us in the fence – Charlotte and now here. I had a lot of people coming up to me afterwards saying that was a long time coming so I guess that was a popular move. Honestly, it’s about these guys that work so hard on this race car and give me fast race cars. They gave me a race car that was capable of winning both nights I think. Just mistakes made by me and we kind of tuned it out this race that took us out of contention. Once we finally got to where I thought we could have been, get taken out and that was frustrating. Just frustrated and just sorry for our race team that happened.”
For his part, Gragson said he needed to go back and look at race replays to see exactly what transpired.
“We’re all racing hard,” he said. “I really don’t have a comment, haven’t seen everything that happened [on track].”
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