JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson sparked a wreck at Road America on July 2 after making contact with Alpha Prime Racing’s Sage Karam. The part-time Xfinity Series driver responded after the incident by making angry comments about the “dangerous” move.
“That was ridiculous,” Karam told NBC Sports after exiting the infield care center. “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. It was ridiculous. I think he tried to take officiating or whatever into his own hands, and you can’t be that… that heated while you’re driving a race car. Unfortunately, he let his emotions get the best of him.”
Karam continued and made stronger comments about Gragson. He said that the driver of the No. 9 “walks around like he’s the big man on campus” and that he is not a good role model. Karam also said that he wouldn’t talk to Gragson about the incident because he doesn’t “think that we can change Noah.”
Prior to the incident, Karam had spent the afternoon in contention for a top-10 finish. He ended Stage 1 in the 10th position before ending Stage 2 in the 11th position. Karam worked his way up to sixth overall before the wreck ended his day. Instead of contending for a top-10, he finished 31st.
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Beating & Banging Preceded the On-Track Incident
The incident occurred during the final stage of the Xfinity Series race. Gragson and Karam made contact multiple times over two laps, to the point that the No. 9 went off the track and kicked up dirt in front of teammate Josh Berry. Once they hit the straight portion of the track, it appeared that Gragson intentionally turned into Karam and tried to wreck him.
The move sent both drivers spinning while Berry and Brandon Jones avoided them. Other drivers were not so lucky. There was a considerable amount of dust in the air, which created visibility issues. Several drivers came racing in and wrecked. Landon Cassill, in particular, flew up in the air after heavy contact from Myatt Snider.
Gragson was able to continue in the race. Karam, for comparison, had to head to the infield care center for further evaluation while the track crews towed his destroyed No. 45 back to the garage.
Brandon Brown took the worst of the contact. He violently slammed into Tyler Reddick’s No. 48, which had come to rest in the middle of the track. Brown’s No. 68 continued and hit the wall. The driver was able to climb out of the stock car under his own power, but he had to lie down next to the wall while in visible pain.
Once Brown exited the infield care center after evaluation, he provided more information about his injuries. He said that he had gotten the wind knocked out of him in the collision. Brown added that he had “a little kick to the area that you don’t want to injure.”
“I guess he forgot about the three times he would throw it off in a corner, door us, and run us off the racetrack,” Gragson said after the race ended. “So eventually you get sick and tired of it. I hate people’s stuff got torn up, but three times is a bit ridiculous.”
“I take responsibility,” Gragson continued. “I hate it for his guys, but we’re fighting to race for a championship here. I’m just really over being run over.”
1 Team Owner Expressed His Displeasure
There were numerous conversations on social media after the massive wreck. Some people questioned if there was a mechanical issue that led to the contact while others said that Gragson had intentionally tried to wreck Karam.
Tommy Joe Martins, the co-owner and GM of Alpha Prime Racing, also weighed in. He tweeted at JR Motorsports co-owners Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and said that the move was “absolutely on purpose.”
“Absolutely on purpose. @EarnhardtKelley @DaleJr I’m sure you’re embarrassed 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,” the Alpha Prime Racing co-owner said.
This is not the first time that Martins has made some strong comments on Twitter about an incident involving one of his drivers. He previously addressed Joe Gibbs Racing and Brandon Jones after the race at Circuit of the Americas.
The driver of the No. 19 had spun Josh Bilicki during the Pit Boss 250, prompting some angry tweets from the Alpha Prime Racing driver. Martins then weighed in and said that he was frustrated with Jones about the incident. Though both Martins and Bilicki later clarified that they had reached an understanding with JGR and Jones mere hours after the race came to an end.
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nascar and the media create situations like this, they constantly call it aggressive driving and because of the lame fans that would rather see wrecks than racing it prevails. this isn’t the first time noah has pulled stunts like this and it won’t be the last. it seems like for whatever reason he is immune to penalties, maybe who he drives for has something to do with, maybe its just the way the sport has turned. my fear is that he is going to harm someone seriously on day, if its a fan there may be consequences nascar has no control over. he should have been parked at the very least, how fair is it to finish the race when he destroyed so many cars.
That move by Noah Gragson was one of the lamest I’ve seen in NASCAR. It looked to me that in the previous corner Sage banged his door because Gragson drove too deep in the corner and got tight, he had plenty of room to his inside but kept going straight when Sage was turning. Gragson is not making friends in the garage something that real pro race drivers know is important.