No penalties for Noah Gragson after NASCAR Xfinity pit road incident at Atlanta

NASCAR will not be issuing a penalty to Noah Gragson for pit road contact during Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race at Atlanta that led to fists flying after the race was over.

It started during the race with a disagreement over pit-road space during a late-race stop, with Gragson’s No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Hemric in adjacent stalls. That dispute included contact when Gragson backed up and sent the No. 18 crew scrambling.

The disagreement continued after the drivers exited their cars after the race. Hemric walked down pit road and confronted Gragson as Gragson was doing a post-race interview. The two traded pushes and threw punches before they were separated.

“Pretty simple. He had no idea what was going on out on the racetrack,” Hemric said later. “We come down pit road and the guy pitted behind us when you accelerate when I was pulling into my box, and it made me have to steer around the guy going to the 9’s (Gragson) box. I backed up and yes, it messed up both of our pit stops.

“I backed up and he decided to put it in reverse and cram into the right-front fender and knock a hole in our Poppy Bank Toyota Supra nose. We had to pit again and fix it. That was completely deliberate, and it was absolutely ridiculous. Where I come from, you get your eye dotted when you do stuff like that.”

Hemric had no doubt Gragson’s actions were intentional.

“Oh yeah, crammed it into reverse and backed up,” Hemric said. “Punched a hole in the nose of our car. Punched a hole in our car and I got one punched in his eye. We’re even.”

Gragson rallied from a multi-car crash at the end of Stage 1 to finish fourth behind race winner and JRM teammate Justin Allgaier. Hemric finished ninth, his fifth top-10 finish in six races this season.

NASCAR officials said that Gragson had been ordered to the officials’ hauler for post-race consultation.

Gragson defended his actions after it was over.

“I don’t know why he’s mad,” Gragson said. “We were behind him coming onto pit road … Then he was in our pit box and I had to come around him and not really sure why he was there, but had to back up and get there. … I’d be mad if I was in his shoes, too, just based off what he’s done in his career, but it is what it is and we’ll move on and keep on fighting. Man, what a day. Top five, we’ll go celebrate that.”

Sunday morning NASCAR issued a statement saying that no further action would be taken. In the statement Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President, Competition said:

“We reviewed the incident which occurred between the 9 and 18 cars on pit road during Saturday night’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and met with Noah Gragson after the event. A chain reaction of events led to the 18 and 9 both overshooting their pit stalls. The 9 ended up both long and out of his pit box to the outside, and needed to back up as far as possible to have any chance at fully pulling into his box. After reviewing the video, it is our judgement that the contact was not deliberate.”