Noah Gragson’s bank account is $35k lighter this week as he was not only fined, but docked 30 points as well for his actions in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Road America. Gragson purposely crashed Sage Karam on a straightaway which led to a 13 car melee as a result.
Should Penalty Be Handed Out This Far After?
The race at Road America was four days ago. Is it fair to punish someone for their actions that far after the event? I’m one that seems to think that if the sport thinks something is that egregious in the way that they held Noah Gragson liable for his actions, a penalty should have been levied in the race itself not 4 days after the fact.
Instead, Gragson wasn’t penalized in real time for his actions on Saturday afternoon and finished in 8th place as a result. Is it fair to punish him this far after though?
NASCAR cited Section 4.4.C of the Xfinity Rule Book that states a competitor can lose 25-50 driver and team owner points and/or be fined $25,000-$50,000 for intentionally wrecking another vehicle. NASCAR also cited Section 4.4.E of the Xfinity Rule Book that states actions detrimental to NASCAR could be penalized.
So I get the rule book states he should, but shouldn’t something have been done sooner? I get you had a holiday weekend and a Cup race on Sunday too, but is 4 days too late?
I agree that he should be penalized. There’s no place in our sport to do what he did in that manner. However, I wonder if the length of time is too long.
NASCAR Needs A Bad Boy But Is Gragson Tarnishing His Future
Another thing is, Noah Gragson is exactly what NASCAR needs. In a world where everything is PC, Gragson is a throwback. He’s a cross between Tim Richmond meets Kyle Busch meets Dale Earnhardt. He has the potential to be that next iconic driver because of his personality.
He’s fast. He can win. You either love him or hate him. He’s not afraid to knock you out of the way and will punch you in the mouth if you come at him. He’s brash. He’s cocky. He’ll shotgun a beer with you after a race.
However, there’s a limit to this and a fine line to where you can cross it and potentially damage your future and brand too. Saturday’s actions crossed that line. His boss even thought so too.
“He wants to get to the Cup level and we want to help him get there,” Earnhardt said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday morning. “Whether he’s driving a Cup car for us one day or someone else, when he makes those type of decisions, and this is what I told him, I said ‘You’re hurting that opportunity, you’re tarnishing, staining your reputation.’ And that’s the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to get job offers.
“And I told him that I could stand behind him through just about anything, but I could not defend that. And that’s a difficult thing for me. That’s a difficult position for me.”
JR Motorsports also was docked 30 owner points too.
Gragson Saying The Right Things…For Now
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also said that his message to Gragson for the future is also “to take that out of his toolbox.
“He cannot be intentionally turning into guys on the straightaway. I was disappointed and absolutely planned to discuss that with Noah and I have this week,” he said.
Gragson agreed saying he felt remorse when he drove by the site of the incident on the next lap. From the outside, it appeared that Gragson made this maneuver against Karam in the manner of a temper tantrum and not calculated.
He owned that on Wednesday morning on the same SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel noting that he regrets what he did.
“What I would do differently is try to keep my temper and aggression, keep that under control and try to remain cool, calm and collected,” Gragson said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio late this morning. “There’s a bigger picture than retaliating or getting Sage back for the multiple times that he doored us. We have a bigger picture to chase.
“I made a mistake, and I hope not to make that mistake again. I’m going to try everything in my power not to make that mistake again and that comes from learning from the situation and trying to be better in the future.
“There’s nothing I can really do about the results of it now other than try not to let it happen again.”
The thing is, you hope this penalty and criticism even from his owner sends a message that his move wasn’t acceptable. However, you also have to hope that his antics don’t fully change because NASCAR needs a driver with a personality like this too.