Noah Gragson and Sage Karam said that they met with NASCAR officials Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in an effort to put their on-track incident in last weekend’s Xfinity Series race behind them.
The two drivers indicated that they’d shaken hands and come to an understanding in separate interviews with NBC Sports during Saturday’s pre-race coverage at Atlanta. Gragson started sixth with Karam 25th in the Alsco Uniforms 250.
The pair tangled last Saturday at Road America, with Gragson’s No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet making a retaliatory move toward Karam’s Alpha Prime Racing No. 45 Chevy shortly past the midway point of the Henry 180. That ignited a severe multicar crash on the 4.048-mile road course, snaring several drivers in its wake.
Gragson was penalized Wednesday, hit with a $35,000 fine and a 30-point deduction for rough driving that violated the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct. Saturday at Atlanta, the two met and were seen casually chatting during driver introductions.
“It’s good. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and the rest of the guys in the series just being able to talk to him, and I really didn’t know him that much,” Gragson told NBC Sports. “So just getting to understand where he was coming from and kind of the way he was racing and kind of give him my side of the story. But you know, we shook hands and we’re gonna go race hard today and put on a show in the Xfinity Series. … I think last week is behind us and ready to go race hard this weekend.”
“We met this morning and it was actually nice just to get in a room and talk with Noah,” Karam said, who makes his eighth career start Saturday at Atlanta. “You know, I didn’t know him on a personal level, I’ve only known him from on track, but I think it went really well. I think we’ve buried the hatchet and can move forward.
“I think for me, it’s like I’m racing up there up front and getting to race a guy like Noah, who’s very fast. He’s won a lot of races, he’s with a very good team, so you know, I race him hard out of respect. I think that’s a respect thing. I want to beat him and he wants to beat me, but he apologized for the contact on the straightaway. I apologized for maybe rubbing into the door a little bit too much and yeah, it’s all learning experiences for sure.”