💭 "Mistakes have been made, but if I can learn from it […] that's the thing I need to focus on." #NASCAR
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) July 6, 2022
Following Noah Gragson’s intentional wreck during the Xfinity race at Road America last weekend — a retaliation to initial contact by driver Sage Karam that then caused damage to 13 cars — Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive.
“I was shocked, to be honest with you, when I saw Noah make that decision,” he said. “I was just — I was completely shocked and in a bit of disbelief that not only he made that choice but that it created such an accident and got so many other guys involved. And so, that was kind of — I don’t know, that was tough to watch, really tough.”
Earnhardt was also surprised that NASCAR didn’t penalize Gragson, but when Gragson spoke on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, he said, “Per our team, I think there’s most definitely gonna be a penalty and we’re gonna see that in a couple of hours.” On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Gragson would be fined $35,000, plus the team would lose 30 owner and 30 driver points.
As the owner of JR Motorsports, Earnhardt has made it his mission to seek out talented young drivers like Gragson to mentor them to victories.
“I think that when Noah made that choice that he might not understand the ripple effect of all of that and just really how much collateral damage there is and how it effects a lot of people. And so, I told him that I could stand behind him through just about anything but I could not defend that,” Earnhardt explained. “And that’s a difficult position for me or anybody to be in. It’s when you want to support somebody, and you’re helping somebody try to achieve their goals, but they do something you can’t defend. That was just the message I gave him.”
“Dale’s been a great mentor to myself,” Gragson said. “Obviously, mistakes have been made, but I feel like if I can learn from it and become a better person or a better race-car driver or just better overall, that’s the thing I need to focus on right now. I really respect Dale’s opinion.”
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