Dale Jr. tells Noah Gragson that Road America action was ‘crossing the line’
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he was “shocked” that JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson wrecked Sage Karam in last weekend’s Xfinity race at Road America that damaged 13 cars.
Earnhardt, co-owner of JR Motorsports, made the comments Wednesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Earnhardt expressed his disappointment in Gragson’s actions.
“I was disappointed and absolutely planned to discuss that with Noah and I have this week,” Earnhardt said of his discussion with Gragson on Tuesday. “Basically my message to Noah is that he needs to take that out of his toolbox. ... He cannot be intentionally turning into guys on the straightaway.”
Gragson said Wednesday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR’s Radio “On Track” that “I made a mistake and hope not to make that mistake again.”
Gragson also stated on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he expected NASCAR to announce a penalty against him later Wednesday. He noted that “we have the personnel to regroup and try to go win Atlanta and get some of the points back.”
Earnhardt said he stressed to Gragson that such actions may hurt his chances of securing a Cup ride.
“He wants to get to the Cup level, and we want to help him get there,” Earnhardt said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “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.”
Earnhardt also said that Gragson’s actions were “crossing the line clearly. You don’t ever want to see that happen on the racetrack between anybody.”
Gragson wrecked Karam in retaliation for contact by Karam. Gragson sent Karam’s car off course on a straightaway. Karam’s car kicked up dirt and dust, causing other cars to slam into each other. Thirteen cars were involved in the incident.
NASCAR did not penalize him during the race. Series officials spoke with Gragson after the race.
“Unfortunately, he let his emotions get the best of him today,” Karam told NBC Sports’ Kim Coon on Saturday. “I’ve seen that with him. He walks around like he’s like the big man on campus around here and everything, and then he does stuff like that. It’s just not a good role model that he is.”
After finishing eighth, Gragson said of Karam: “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.”
Said Gragson after the race: “Just got run over. That’s one thing if you’re faster than someone. I pointed AJ (Allmendinger) by all day. (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. It’s obviously not the ideal situation for him and his team, but for three times I’m done with it.”