NASCAR penalized Noah Gragson Wednesday for his actions during last Saturday’s Xfinity race at Road America.
It all started a few laps into the final stage on the 4.048-mile road course when Sage 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.
Karem 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.”
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.”
Tuesday morning, Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s vice president of officiating and technical inspection, hinted in an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that punishment was possible with the release of the midweek penalty report.
“We have additional information post-race that we didn’t have immediately after the race when we were speaking with Noah,” Sawyer told SiriusXM. “So again, we’ll look at it internally (Tuesday), what we’ve done in the past and in similar situations, but all things are on the table. And during the event, you know, it could rise to a level that you park a vehicle. It can rise to a level that we hold them for several laps. In this particular case, you know, we elected to speak with Noah post-race to make sure we had all the information and facts that we needed. And again, we’ll take a deeper dive into that incident (Tuesday) morning.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., co-owner of JR Motorsports, appeared on SiriusXM on Wednesday and said, “I was shocked, to be honest with you, when I saw Noah make that decision. I was just completely shocked and in a bit of disbelief not only that he made that choice but that he, you know, that it created such an accident and got so many other guys involved.”
NASCAR penalized Gragson with the loss 30 drivers’ points in and fined him $35,000 for violating Sections 4.4.C&E: NASCAR Member Code of Conduct. JR Motorsports also was hit with a 30-point deduction in the owner standings.
Gragson, 23, is in his fourth full season of Xfinity Series competition, notching seven career victories so far for JR Motorsports. He made his Cup Series debut earlier this year in the Daytona 500. Gragson is a two-time winner this Xfinity season, with victories at Phoenix and Talladega. After the penalty he remains fourth in the standings.
In the penalty report competition officials disciplined the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet team for Xfinity Series points leader AJ Allmendinger for a single unsecured lug nut discovered in a post-race check. No. 16 crew chief Bruce Schlicker was fined $5,000 — the fourth such fine for him this season. Mechanic Sean Kerlin also received an indefinite suspension from NASCAR for violation of Sections 4.1 & 10.1 (Behavioral — SAP).