Karam: Gragson ‘Flat Out Turned Into Me,’ Causing Huge NASCAR Xfinity Wreck

Karam: Gragson ‘Flat Out Turned Into Me,’ Causing Huge NASCAR Xfinity Wreck

A major wreck during Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race at Road America led to a heated war of words between Noah Gragson and Sage Karam.

The tension began brewing after Gragson’s No. 9 Chevrolet made contact with Karam’s No. 45 Chevrolet as the drivers jockeyed for position early during the final stage on Lap 25. As the two came down a straightaway on Turn 4, Gragson appeared to intentionally turn right into Karam’s left-side door, triggering a massive 13-car pileup amid a plume of dust and smoke.

The race was eventually won by Ty Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing who outlasted reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson after an overtime restart. Gragson finished the day in eighth place while Karam placed 31st.

NASCAR did not penalize either driver following the incident, though reporter Bob Pockrass confirmed officials spoke with Gragson afterwards.

Immediately following the race, the bitter rivals blasted one another for their actions while explaining their version of events. Karam, who is competing part-time for Alpha Prime Racing this season, grilled Gragson for sparking the wreck, calling the JR Motorsports driver’s actions “totally unnecessary.” 

“I don’t know what the nine was doing” he said, per NBC Sports’ Dustin Long. “I got on the inside of him the lap before going into Turn 5 – made a move on him. He just dove-bombed me back into Turn 1. I got back underneath him in Turn 3 on the next lap.

“He was slower than a lot of people around us from before that. I just wanted to get in front of him, get around him. Then I got a little tap in the back, I got into the side of (Gragson’s car) at the exit of 3. Then, just down the straightaway, he just flat out turned into me. It was totally unnecessary. He put a lot of drivers at risk.

“It was just really dangerous the way he drove out there. I’ve never turned into somebody deliberately on a straight line and that’s exactly what he just did. I don’t understand it.”

Gragson cited the incident as the result of his response to Karam’s own reckless driving, which he claimed happened three times during the race and in past events. He also made it clear that he accepted responsibility for what transpired, but maintained his retaliation was merely a response to feeling wronged.

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“Just got run over. That’s one thing if you’re faster than someone,” he said. “(Karam) would just throw it off in there and run you off the racetrack in the corner and door you and run you off the track. Finally after the third time, I’m over it. So, it’s obviously not the ideal situation for him and his team, but for three times I’m done with it.”

He continued, “I don’t know if he’s not used to stock car driving, but it seems like the open-wheel stuff, you can’t really go in there side-by-side and hit somebody in the door number when they’re turning and wrecking them and running them off on exit. Maybe he thinks that because we have fenders, you can do that. I don’t know the deal. It is what it is, and you saw the result.”

When asked if the rivalry will continue beyond Wisconsin, Gragson said, “It’s over to me,” before adding, “He starts it; I’m the one who finished,” per NASCAR.com.

The crash along with the ensuing animosity led to a number of reactions on social media. One of those responses came during an exchange between Tommy Joe Martins, Karam’s team owner, and Kelley Earnhardt, who is the VP and co-owner of JR Motorsports along with brother Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Absolutely on purpose,” said Martins. “@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.”

Said Kelley, “I’m not embarrassed. I understand you are upset rightfully so. Our team will sort out what we need to with Noah and move on. The highs and lows are all part of what we do.”

In addition to Gragson and Karam, drivers Brandon Brown, Daniel Hemric, Brett Moffitt, John Hunter Nemechek, Bayley Currey, Andy Lally, Landon Cassill, Josh Bilicki, Daniel Hemric, Tyler Reddick and Jeremy Clements were involved in the accident.

NASCAR later announced all 13 drivers were checked and released from the infield care center.

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