The clash between Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric during Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will not result in discipline, officials announced the next day.
“We reviewed the incident which occurred between the #9 and #18 cars on pit road during Saturday night’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and met with Noah Gragson after the event,” said NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller. “A chain reaction of events led to the #18 and #9 both overshooting their pit stalls. The #9 ended up both long and out of his pit box to the outside, and needed to back up as far as possible to have any chance at fully pulling into his box. After reviewing the video, it is our judgment that the contact was not deliberate.”
For the EchoPark 250, Gragson’s pit stall (number 6) was in front of Hemric (number 7). During stops, Hemric overshot his box and backed into place, followed by Gragson doing the same. However, Gragson’s reversal sent him into Hemric’s car while the latter’s pit crew was servicing him. Although nobody was hurt, the contact resulted in damage to Hemric’s nose, forcing him to pit again for repairs.
Gragson finished fourth and Hemric in ninth. After the race, Hemric confronted Gragson during the latter’s interview, with Gragson throwing a punch and missing before Hemric retaliated and connected. The two were eventually separated by their crewmen.
“He had no idea what was going on out on the race track,” Hemric said. “We come down pit road and the guy pitted behind us when you accelerate when I was pulling into my box and it made me have to steer around the guy going to the #9’s box. I backed up and yes, it messed up both of our pit stops. I backed up and he decided to put it in reverse and cram into the right-front fender and knock a hole in our Poppy Bank Toyota Supra nose. We had to pit again and fix it. That was completely deliberate and it was absolutely ridiculous. Where I come from, you get your eye dotted when you do stuff like that.
“(He) crammed it into reverse and backed up. Punched a hole in the nose of our car. Punched a hole in our car and I got one punched in his eye. We’re even.”
In the evening, Gragson tweeted a video of the pit road incident and added Hemric “was in our pit box when I was turning into our pit stall. He backed up into his. I was out of position in the box and had to back up to get into my box. Unintentional backing into him. If they’d show the full replay, you’d see I didn’t just back into him for no reason.”
Hemric responded to the video, “The middle finger you gave me out the window was a pretty clear indication to me that you knew exactly what your intent was. Thanks for posting the facts @NoahGragson”.
Gragson’s JR Motorsports and Hemric’s Joe Gibbs Racing partners and colleagues also chimed in. Rick Brandt, CEO of JRM driver and Atlanta winner Justin Allgaier‘s sponsor BRANDT, tweeted, “I believe if I was CEO of Poppy Bank I’d be looking for a new ride! But I’m not, so I guess I’ll just keep WINNING races instead!!!”
JGR Cup driver Denny Hamlin replied to a video of Gragson’s post-fight interview by saying to not “give him a microphone” and quipping to Good Sam Insurance CEO Marcus Lemonis that he would nominate Hemric for Lemonis’s #goodsam programme for indivudals “doing good things for others”. He also tagged Fox commentator Mike Joy, asking for his whereabouts “when you need him”; Joy criticised Gragson for his attitude after a wreck with small-team driver David Starr while leading at Homestead.
Either way, it is safe to say that Gragson has embraced his reputation as the heel of the Xfinity Series.