When JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson sparked a wreck at Road America by turning into Alpha Prime Racing’s Sage Karam, there were questions about how the decision-makers at the Xfinity Series team would respond. Now Dale Earnhardt Jr. has provided an answer by saying that it crossed a line.
Earnhardt made the comments during a July 6 appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive. He explained that he will defend Gragson in a lot of situations but the wreck at Road America was not one of them. Earnhardt added that Gragson needs to take that move “out of his toolbox” and that it could have an effect on future Cup opportunities.
“I was shocked, to be honest with you, when I saw Noah make that decision,” Earnhardt said during his appearance. “I was completely shocked and in a bit of disbelief that not only he made that choice but that it created such an accident and got so many other guys involved. That was tough to watch.”
Earnhardt continued and said that he was kind of surprised that NASCAR did not penalize Gragson. He said that if he had been in the booth working race control, he would probably have had to bring the No. 9 to pit road and hold it there for a while.
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Gragson Admits He Should Have Handled the Situation Differently
The Xfinity Series regular knows that he made a mistake by turning into Karam’s stock car and kicking off the 13-car wreck. This move ended the day for several contenders, knocked the wind out of Brandon Brown, and it created a scenario where he receives a significant penalty from NASCAR.
There is no changing the past, but Gragson can make some changes for the future. He addressed this when facing questions about what he would have done differently in the midst of his battle with Karam at Road America.
“What I would do differently is try to keep my temper or aggression and keep that under control and try to remain cool, calm and collected,” Gragson said during his appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s On Track. “There’s a bigger picture than retaliating and getting Sage back for the multiple times he doored us. We have a bigger picture to chase.”
The bigger picture is a spot in the championship four. Gragson reached the finale in 2021, but he ultimately finished third in the standings after the trip to Phoenix Raceway. He is now fourth in the championship standings with multiple races remaining in the regular season.
Gragson Expects a Penalty From NASCAR
Earnhardt explained that he would have parked Gragson for multiple laps if he had been in the control tower, but he wasn’t the one making the decision. The NASCAR officials did not penalize Gragson and the No. 9 team in the immediate aftermath of the wreck.
Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s VP of Officiating, indicated that there could be a penalty leading up to the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on July 5 and said that the officials are examining all options. Sawyer did not reveal if there will be a penalty, but Gragson provided a different outlook.
“I think that for our team, I think there’s most definitely gonna be a penalty and we’re gonna see that in a couple of hours,” Gragson said during his appearance. “But after that, it’s just about, ‘Hey, how can we regroup? How can we move forward as a team?'”
Gragson did not reveal what the penalty will be, but he did provide a significant hint. He said that the No. 9 team needs to regroup at Atlanta Motor Speedway and try to win “and get some of the points back.” This indicates that NASCAR will dock him some points, which would potentially drop him in the standings.