Hemric, Gragson mix it up in post-race fight at Atlanta

Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson traded swings and shoves in a post-race scrap after Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The two squabbled over pit-road space during a late-race stop, with Gragson’s No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Hemric in adjacent stalls. That dispute included contact when Gragson backed up and sent the No. 18 crew scrambling, then boiled over into a tussle after the cool-down lap.

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Hemric exited his car and confronted Gragson as he conducted a post-race interview and the two traded pushes and threw punches before they were separated.

“Pretty simple. He had no idea what was going on out on the race track,” Hemric said later, explaining their battle for pit-road real estate. “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 (Gragson) 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.”

Asked for further confirmation on whether Gragson’s action was intentional, Hemric confirmed: “Oh yeah, 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.”

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Gragson rallied from a multi-car crash at the end of Stage 1 to finish fourth behind race winner and JRM teammate Justin Allgaier in the EchoPark 250. Hemric took ninth place, his fifth top-10 finish in six races this season.

NASCAR representatives said that Gragson had been ordered to the officials’ hauler for post-race consultation, indicating that the incident would be reviewed. Any potential penalties, officials said, would be addressed later in the week.

Gragson defended his actions in a subsequent interview and with a post-race tweet that included his pit-stop footage.

“I don’t know why he’s mad,” Gragson said. “We were behind him coming onto pit road … Then he was in our pit box and I had to come around him and not really sure why he was there, but had to back up and get there. … I’d be mad if I was in his shoes, too, just based off what he’s done in his career, but it is what it is and we’ll move on and keep on fighting. Man, what a day. Top five, we’ll go celebrate that.”