Sawyer on Chastain-Gragson incident: 'Our sport is an emotional sport'
Elton Sawyer, NASCAR‘s Senior Vice President of Competition, said Tuesday that his group would monitor tensions between Cup Series drivers Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson, adding that no penalties will come following Sunday’s altercation at Kansas Speedway.
Sawyer’s remarks came Tuesday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive,” where he recapped the doubleheader for the Craftsman Truck Series and Cup Series at the 1.5-mile Kansas City, KS track.
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“We‘ve looked at that, we‘ve talked about it and we‘ll continue to have conversations with Ross and Noah,” Sawyer told SiriusXM. “As we‘ve said before, our sport is an emotional sport. Our guys, again, using Sunday, everybody was on the edge, so when you felt like your day hasn‘t gone the way you had hoped it would and someone may have impacted that in a way that you‘re not happy, you‘re gonna show your displeasure.
“We‘ll continue to have some dialogue with those two organizations to make sure we‘re in a good place, but thought that Noah and Ross both … they got to a level there that, obviously, we would have preferred not to have seen, but they were both showing their displeasure of what happened, but again, it‘s an emotional sport, and from time to time, you are going to have disagreements and you‘re gonna see that.”
A tight on-track battle between Chastain and Gragson during Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 prompted a face-to-face confrontation between the two on pit road after the checkered flag. Gragson grabbed Chastain’s fire suit during their heated conversation, which turned physical with a punch thrown and landed by Chastain before NASCAR security officials intervened.
Sawyer additionally told SiriusXM that race officials will not get involved in altercations of that nature and that drivers will be allowed to “have their space” and talk about their displeasures. However, once an incident rises to a physical level, security officials will then get involved to break up the altercation.
In a separate topic covered in Sawyer’s radio appearance, Sawyer said that the decision by NASCAR officials to display unapproved parts from the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet last weekend at Kansas will be standard procedure moving forward.
The RCR No. 3 team was issued an L1-level penalty after the Cup Series race weekend at Martinsville Speedway after officials found a splitter stay — one of the six bars used to connect the splitter to the body frame as part of the underwing assembly — that did not comply with the NASCAR Rule Book. The No. 3 team appealed, but the penalty was upheld in a May 2 hearing.
MORE: National Motorsports Appeals Panel upholds L1-level penalties for No. 3 RCR team
Officials indicated that transparency was the goal in making unapproved or modified parts available to view in the NASCAR hauler on the opening day of a Cup Series race weekend.