NASCAR on Wednesday penalized Noah Gragson for a deliberate and dangerous crash he caused in the Xfinity Series race at Road America.
Gragson, who turns 24 later this month, was docked 30 points and fined $35,000 by NASCAR for intentionally crashing into Sage Karam on Saturday at the road course in Wisconsin. NASCAR cited a rule against “intentionally wrecking another vehicle” and “actions by a NASCAR Member that NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.”
Gragson’s swerve into Karam triggered a frightening multicar crash that was so egregious, Gragson was criticized publicly by Dale Earnhardt Jr. ahead of the penalty announcement. The NASCAR Hall of Famer and co-owner of the JR Motorsports team Gragson has represented since 2019 was surprised NASCAR didn’t immediately penalize his driver.
NASCAR said it did not immediately issue the penalty after the 13-car crash because the racing Saturday on the road course had been so aggressive that it wanted to speak with Gragson and examine his Chevrolet to ensure he had not suffered a mechanical failure.
The points deduction did not drop Gragson in the standings; he has two victories this season.
Kelley Earnhardt Miller, who was initially defiant against calls for Gragson to be punished, said on Twitter the team she co-owns with her brother “understands” the NASCAR penalty.
Gragson lost his temper after he and Karam banged several times shortly after the start of the third stage. Gragson turned right deliberately to hook Karam on the straightaway between Turns 3 and 5, which triggered other crashes.
Karam was immediately critical of the danger Gragson’s action caused other drivers, and Gragson was unapologetic for crashing Karam.
Karam crashed in 2015 while leading an IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway and a piece of broken debris from his car bounced up and struck Justin Wilson’s helmet, delivering a fatal blow.
Karam is now trying a mix of both NASCAR and IndyCar and has been unimpressed with Gragson in his time in NASCAR’s second-tier series.
Karam is entered in Saturday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he will face Gragson again but said he won’t retaliate.