Why did Ross Chastain punch Noah Gragson in the face at NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday?

Noah Gragson Merch

Things got very heated on Sunday between two drivers at NASCAR’s Cup Series in Kansas. The question now is, what kind of punishment will the pair face after becoming involved in a physical altercation with each other?

If you saw the NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday in Kansas, then there’s no way you missed the incident which took place between Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson. Indeed, Chastain punched Gragson in the face after Gragson appeared to grab onto his fire suit during a heated post-race discussion. As far as could be seen, Gragson seemed to be very upset with the manner in which Chastain competed against him during an intense moment in the race which saw him pinched into the wall. Following the race, Gragson confronted Chastain at which point situation definitely got out of hand.

“I got tight off [Turn 4] for sure,” Chastain said of his car pushing up the track. “Noah and I have a very similar attitude on the racetrack and we train together, we prepare together, we know each other’s ever little bit about each other. …Definitely crowded him up off of [Turn 4] and he took a swipe at us in [Turn 3] and then he came down and grabbed ahold of me and a very big man once told me we have a no-push policy here at Trackhouse.”

Though it may surprise you, both Chastain and Gragson have been here before and it was only a little earlier this season as during the closing laps of another race as well. On that occasion – just two weeks ago – Gragson went into the wall which resulted in a massive wreck at Talladega, after Chastain forced a three-wide move for the lead. While it would be difficult to prove that Chastain intentionally forced Gragson into the wall, you can bet your last dollar that the idea would have occurred to and stayed with Gragson prior to their fight on Sunday. Ultimately, Gragson finished 29th and five laps down following a caution for a spin with 60 laps remaining, while Chastain managed to finish fifth.

It’s worth noting that there was a pretext to the incident which occurred between Chastain and Gragson. Indeed, it could be argued that eventual race winner, Denny Hamlin, actions precipitated the fight between the two drivers. On the final lap, it was Hamlin who nudged Kyle Larson into the wall on the backstretch. Having pursued Larson for the lead, Hamlin struggled to pass him on the closing lap and instead ended up touching the bumper of Larson’s car which led Larson to hit the wall. The resulting chaos directly factored into the scenario that played out between Chastain and Gragson.

Speaking about the situation, Hamlin empathized with his rival. “Roles reversed, I’m like, dammit, I’m pissed for sure,” Hamlin said. Meanwhile, Larson explained that his car was already loose before the impact caused by Hamlin essentially put the final nail in the coffin. “I was trying to do what I could to manage it, just was really loose at that end, and yeah, just he was a little bit better than me there at the end,” Larson said immediately after exiting his car. “I haven’t seen a replay either, but obviously he was side-drafting really aggressively like you would, but he was like touching me it felt like, and it just had me kind of out of control.”

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