NASCAR announced they are fining Noah Gragson and docking him and his team points for his actions during Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Road America, where he drove his car into Sage Karam’s #45 Chevy causing a 13-car crash.
As you can see below Karam and Gragson were bouncing off each others doors coming out of one of the corners. Gragson, seemingly fed up with the contact swerves her car to the right slamming into Karam’s door.
Both vehicles spin, and the cars behind them begin crashing with Landon Cassill’s #10 going airborne. Tyler Reddick also took a hard lick when Brandon Brown slammed into the side of him.
Following the wreck, Karam criticized Gragson saying, “I think Noah just got confused and thought we were in a corner, but we were actually in a straight line. So, I’m not really sure. That was — we got really lucky as far as all the drivers that were involved in that to not have anybody get seriously hurt because that was, that was ridiculous.”
“I’ve never been turned into on a straight line like that in car racing ever in my life,” Karam said. “And he just flat out turned to the right and out of pure frustration. It’s ridiculous and I think he tried to take officiating or whatever into his own hands and you can’t be that heated while you’re driving a race car. Unfortunately, he let his emotions get the best of him today.”
He added, “But I’ve seen that with him and how he walks around like he’s the big man on campus around here and everything and then he does stuff like that. It’s just not a good role model he is.”
When asked if he would speak to Gragson, Karam replied, “I think a lot of people have already spoke to Noah. I don’t think Noah is going to change. The short time I’ve been in Xfinity racing here, I have not heard a lot of great things about Noah. And he has not shown a lot of great racing with me on track. I’m not sure if we can change Noah.”
“I think this is something that Noah needs to take a look in the mirror and he needs to look at himself and he needs to want to make a change himself,” Karam concluded.
On Twitter, Karam described Gragson’s driving as “reckless” and “dangerous.”
He wrote, “Gutted for Team Alpha Prime today. They put together one heck of a race car for me this weekend and I am proud to drive for them. Also apologies to the third of the field that lost their shot today too from a reckless, dangerous decision. We will push forward and get our result.”
Gragson put the blame on Karam, but did admit he caused the wreck saying in his post-race interview, “I guess he forgot the three times he would throw if off in the corner, door us, and run us off the racetrack. 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 not including the past.”
He continued, “I take responsibility. I hate for his guys. But were fighting, fighting to race for a championship here and just really over getting run over.”
When asked if his beef with Karam ends here, Gragson answered, “It’s over it to me. He starts it, I’m the one who finished. We’re good.”
Gragson finished the race in eighth while Karam exited early and finished 31st.
Karam responded to Gragson’s comments in an interview with Speed Sport telling the publication, “I don’t care if he’s gonna take responsibility for that. But to say you’re not sorry, means, in reality, he doesn’t think he was wrong, and somebody could have been seriously injured. And we got lucky, nobody was and that’s the type of racing that puts people in the hospital.”
“That’s not racing, actually. And I don’t know why that’s allowed. That shouldn’t be allowed in any type of racing and let alone one of the biggest series in the world.”
Karam went on to describe Gragson as a punk saying, “Just him saying he’ll take responsibility, but he’s not sorry is one of the most bogus statements I’ve ever heard. He’s a punk. And eventually, it’s gonna catch up to him, karma is gonna get them. He’s gonna need a favor one day, and there’s going to be people that he’s done wrong, that aren’t going to give him favors. And it’s just noted.”
Karam’s car owner Tommy Joe Martins called out Gragson’s team owners Kelly Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Twitter. He wrote, “Absolutely on purpose. Kelly Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., I’m sure you’re embarassed to even be associated with that. Hard racing and bumping a guy back I get but that kind of stuff can hurt someone. It’s too much.”
Kelly Earnhardt responded, “I’m not embarassed. I understand you are upset rightfully so. Our team will sort out what we need to do with Noah and move on. The highs and lows are all part of what we do.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared his thoughts on the wreck during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
He said, “I was shocked, to be honest with you, when I saw Noah make that decision. I was completely shocked and in a bit of disbelief that not only he made that choice, but that it created such an accident, got so many other guys involved. That was tough to watch, really tough.”
“I was kind of surprised NASCAR didn’t penalize him,” Jr. said. “I think that NASCAR doesn’t want to over officiate the races, but I think in some situations there’s some things that do cross over a line. And I felt that was definitely one of those situations where had I been in the booth, directing the race, I think I would have had to bring Noah to pit road and hold him there for awhile.”
“I was kind of surprised because that had been the precedent that had been set in the past, I suppose,” Jr. added.
Turning his attention to Gragson, Junior said, “I think that when Noah made that choice that he might not understand the ripple effects of all that. And just really how much collateral damage there is and how it affects a lot of people.”
“I told him that I could stand behind him through just about anything, but I could not defend that. That’s a difficult thing for me. That’s a difficult position for me or anybody to be in. It’s when you want to support somebody and you’re helping somebody try to achieve their goals, but they do something you can’t defend. And that was the message I gave him,” he stated.
💭 “I was shocked.” #NASCAR
@JRMotorsports co-owner @DaleJr shared his reaction to @NoahGragson‘s retaliation on @SageKaram at @roadamerica, calling it “tough to watch.”
@NASCAR_Xfinity | @EarnhardtKelley pic.twitter.com/ZlC0pcqUya
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) July 6, 2022
While Gragson was not penalized during the race or even immediately after, NASCAR did announced they are fining him $35,000 for violating Sections 4.4C&E:NASCAR Member Code of Conduct and are docking him 30 points in the drivers’ standing.
Not only was Gragson punished, but JR Motorsports was also docked 30 points in the owner standings.
What do you make of NASCAR’s punishment? Do you think Gragson was at fault?