Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Road America featured a fantastic battle for the victory, but likely the biggest talking point to come out of the event was an accident mid-way through the event, triggered by Noah Gragson.
Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Elton Sawyer – NASCAR’s Vice President of Officiating and Technical Inspection — joined Pete Pistone to discuss what went down between Gragson and Sage Karam at Road America on Saturday.
With 20 laps left in Saturday’s HENRY 180, multiple instances of contact between Gragson and Karam appeared to boil over, when the JR Motorsports driver turned into the side of Karam on the Moraine Sweep, spinning both drivers from inside the top-10.
What followed, was a MASSIVE accident that distributed damage to at least 16 cars, many of which took significant impacts. Luckily, nobody was severely injured.
After the accident, Karam, who was poised to secure a career-best effort for Alpha Prime Racing, was frustrated with Gragson’s handling of the situation, making it known in a USA Network interview after leaving the care center.
Post-race, Noah Gragson defended his actions, citing the three instances of contact between himself and Karam, ultimately saying: “Eventually, you get sick and tired of it.”
Sawyer, a competitor in the series for two decades, gave his thoughts on the incident, telling Pete Pistone: “Well, obviously Pete, he didn’t handle it that well. He made a bad decision on Lap 25 of a forty-something-lap race, as a championship contender, a bad decision.”
“We did speak with Noah post-race in the Xfinity hauler. He understands our position of what we expect from him going forward,” Sawyer continued. “We’re continuing to have dialogue internally – we did yesterday, we’ll continue this morning, to see if there is any disciplinary action that needs to be added to the incident.”
When asked about potential penalties that remain in play for Gragson, like a suspension, fine, or a points penalty, Sawyer was candid about the situation at hand.
“We will continue internally today to address that, we have additional information post-race that we didn’t have immediately after the race, when we were speaking with Noah. Again, we’ll look at it internally today, what we’ve done in the past in a similar situation, but all things are on the table.”
Sawyer then elaborated on the sanctioning body’s thought process throughout the event, giving some insight into the reason that they didn’t immediately park Gragson for his actions.
“During the event, it could rise to a level that you park a vehicle, it could rise to a level that we hold them several laps, but in this particular case, we elected to speak with Noah post-race to make sure we had all the information and facts we needed, and again we’ll take a deeper dive into that incident this morning.”
At the time of publishing, the penalties that Gragson will receive – if any are distributed – have yet to be announced, but it looks as though there is some serious consideration behind whether or not the fourth-year driver will be punished.