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NASCAR has penalized JR Motorsports Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson for intentionally crashing into a competitor during last weekend’s race at Road America.
Gragson and Alpha Prime Racing’s Sage Karam were fighting with some contact for position on Lap 25 when Gragson apparently became frustrated with the situation and swerved into Karam’s car.
Both Chevrolets lost control and caused a 13-car pileup.
After reviewing the incident, NASCAR decided to fine Gragson $35,000 and dock him 30 season points for “intentionally wrecking another vehicle” and “actions by a NASCAR member that NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.”
Gragson, who has two wins this season and is currently fourth in the standings, did not apologize for his actions and criticized Karam’s driving.
“It’s one thing if you’re faster than someone,” Gragson said after the race, “but to throw it off in there and run you off the racetrack in the corner, door you, run you off the track. Finally, after the third time, I’m over it. It’s not the ideal situation for him and his team, but two or three times, I’m done with it.”
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JR Motorsports did not protest NASCAR’s decision.
“We understand today’s penalty. Noah is a passionate race car driver, and his actions occurred in the heat of the moment. Learning how and when to keep emotions in check is all part of the learning experience,” JR Motorsports vice president Kelly Earnhardt said in a statement.
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Co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. had criticized Gragson’s driving before the sanctions were announced and said NASCAR probably should have given Gragson a stop and go penalty during the race to let him cool down rather than allow him to continue. He finished in eighth position.
“I was shocked, to be honest with you, when I saw Noah make that decision,” Earnhardt said Wednesday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I was just completely shocked and in a bit of a 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. That was tough to watch, really tough. “
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“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 like that was definitely one of those situations where had I been in the booth directing the race I think I would’ve had to bring Noah to pit road and hold him there for a while.”
Karam did not finish the race and is scheduled to drive again this weekend on the Atlanta Motor Speedway oval. Karam added he does not plan to retaliate.
“I’m not going to intentionally drive into somebody or take somebody out,” Karam said. “That’s just not the type of driver I am. Twenty-something years of racing, that’s never happened to me until (Road America). I would say that’s racing, but to me that wasn’t racing.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report