May 20th, 2021 - Noah Gragson at Texas Motor Speedway. (HHP/Garry Eller)
Noah Gragson. (HHP/Garry Eller)

Karam: ‘Zero Respect’ For Noah Gragson After Intentional Wreck

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Sage Karam called Noah Gragson “crazy” and said he has “zero respect” for the JR Motorsports driver after Gragson intentionally wrecked Karam and caused a 13-car pileup during Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Road America.

The wreck occurred 25 laps into the 46-lap race at the 4-mile road course.

What started with the two rubbing doors into Turn 1 while racing for sixth continued when more contact between the two sent Gragson’s No. 9 Chevrolet briefly into the dirt off Turn 3. Gragson then darted back onto the track and moments later swerved right into the left-rear of Karam’s No. 45 Chevrolet, owned by Alpha Prime Racing.

The dirt kicked up from Gragson going off track mixed with the smoke screen from their two cars created a barrier that only allowed drivers to see mere feet in front of them.

The resulting carnage took out Landon Cassill, Tyler Reddick, Brandon Brown, Brett Moffitt and Myatt Snider.

Brown, shaken up by a “pretty big cup check and knocked out of breath,” briefly sat on the ground beside his No. 68 Chevrolet after exiting the car. Snider quickly ran to Brown’s side to check on him as the medical crew arrived on the scene. Every driver was cleared in the medical center.

Karam, a part-time IndyCar driver making his seventh career Xfinity start, shared his thoughts with SPEED SPORT in the garage area after the race when he’d had a chance to see a replay.

“It basically confirmed what I already knew, or what I felt out there on the road,” Karam said. “We were racing hard, just a little bit of rubbing, which is fine. And I thought anything that he did to me before that incident on straightaway there, anything I may have gotten into him was just bumping and racing and hard racing for a top five. I wouldn’t have expected anything less, but then I just never expected to be turned into (on a straightaway). And that’s exactly what happened.”

Gragson, after finishing eighth, showed some remorse for causing a wreck that involved so many cars, but didn’t apologize in regards to Karam himself.

“After the third time (making contact with Karam), I’m over it,” Gragson said. “It’s obviously not the ideal situation for him and his team, but after three times, I’m done with it.”

Asked if he regretted initiating the incident on a tight straightway like the one between Turn 3 and 5, Gragson said “looking back at it, probably. I honestly don’t mean to get anyone else torn up, but that was a result of it.” 

Karam was at least aware of Gragson’s comments on TV when talking with SPEED SPORT.

“I don’t care if he’s gonna take responsibility for that,” Karam said. “But to say you’re not sorry, means, in reality, he doesn’t think he was wrong, and somebody could have been seriously injured. And we got lucky, nobody was and that’s the type of racing that puts people in the hospital. That’s not racing, actually. And I don’t know why that’s allowed. That shouldn’t be allowed in any type of racing and let alone one of the biggest series in the world.

“Just him saying he’ll take responsibility, but he’s not sorry, is one of the most bogus statements I’ve ever heard. He’s a punk. And, eventually, it’s gonna catch up to him, karma is gonna get them. He’s gonna need a favor one day, and there’s going to be people that he’s done wrong, that aren’t going to give him favors. And it’s just noted.”

Gragson alluded to an incident between the two of them last season that resulted in him “telling myself I am over over him.”

Karam recalled it occurring at the Charlotte Roval.

“I went to go pass him at the Roval and locked up a front brake,” Karam said. “Because I locked up the front brake, I missed the corner, but then I hit him. And as I was going around him he stuck his middle finger out at me on the banking. So I mean, the kid is just crazy. He lets his emotions get the best of them.”

Tommy Joe Martins, the co-owner of Alpha Prime Racing, shared his thoughts on the accident on Twitter shortly after it happened, tagging JRM general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller, who responded more than an hour after the race’s conclusion.

 “I sent the tweet out and I’m not backing off of that at all,” Martins told SPEED SPORT as his team began loading up the No. 44 of Josh Bilicki, which placed 13th for the team’s best result yet. “I’d be embarrassed to have that kid in my racecar, very embarrassed.”

Added Martins: “Why are we getting wrecked by the 9 car? Well, it’s because we’re up there racing the 9 car, we’re running like 11th or 12th. So you can’t sit here and be really mad about that, because it’s probably one of the best days we’ve ever had in the history of our company. … Sage raced him. They were racing on the lead lap for position in the final stage of race. And obviously, I feel like what Noah did was very uncalled for. I don’t think anything’s gonna come from it.”