Noah Gragson was unapologetic after what he said was a retaliatory move against Sage Karem during Saturday’s Xfinity race at Road America.
A few laps into the final stage on the 4.048-mile road course Karem and Gragson made contact but continued. Shortly after while racing down a straight Gragson turned into Karam. It triggered a massive pileup as dust from the contact sent Karem into the dirt and blinded those behind.
When it was all over, 13 cars were involved with several out of the race including Karem’s and Brandon Brown who got out of his car under his own power but was visibly shaken up and sat down and rested along a wall for a few moments after being helped up.
He was later treated and released from the infield care center.
“Lot of cars went around,” Brown said. “I couldn’t really see anything until I saw the 48 (Tyler Reddick) when I plowed him.
“Just a real gut check, lost my breath and, a little kick to the, uh, area that you don’t want to injure.”
Karem was also out of the race, and said he felt the frustration for Gragson got the best of him.
“That was ridiculous,” Karem said. ”I’ve never been turned into in a straight line like that in car racing ever in my life. He just flat out turned to the right out of pure frustration
“I think he tried to take officiating or whatever into his own hands and you can’t be that heated where you’re driving a racecar. Unfortunately, he let his emotions get the best of him today.
“I’ve seen that with him, and you know, he walks around like he’s like the big man on campus around here and everything. And then he does stuff like that. It’s just not a good role model.”
Karem said he had no plans to talk to Gragson.
“I think a lot of people have already spoke to Noah,” he said. “I don’t think Noah’s gonna change. In the short time I’ve been in Xfinity racing here I’ve not heard great things of Noah and he’s not shown a lot of great racing with me on track.
“I’m not sure if can change Noah, I think this is something that Noah needs to take a look in the mirror he needs to, he needs to look at himself and he needs to want to make a change himself.”
While Karem and Brown were both scored with DNFs, Gragson finished eighth. For his part he made no apologies.
“I guess he forgot the three times he would throw it off in the corner, door us and run us off the racetrack,” Gragson said. “Eventually you get sick and tired of it. I hate people’s stuff got torn up, but I mean three times is a bit ridiculous just today, and then including the past.
“So, I take responsibility. I hate it for his guys, but fighting to race for a championship here and, um, just really over getting run over. “
As for racing in the future with Karem?
“It’s over to me,” Gragson said. “Like he starts it, I‘m the one to finish, so we’re good.”
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