NASCAR: Atlanta fireworks show ‘human drivers’ still exist

Noah Gragson, JR Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Noah Gragson, JR Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Saturday’s post-race fireworks at Atlanta Motor Speedway showed that there are still some “human drivers” competing in NASCAR.

Last month, we posted an article asking “Where did all the human NASCAR drivers go?”. Drivers Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric must have read it and gotten fired up for last weekend’s Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

For these two, all it took was a late pit road clash to light the fuse.

Read. Where did NASCAR's human drivers go?. light

Due to pit road being understandably crowded, and given the fact that these two are still relatively new to the series, little hiccups are bound to happen.

In this case, Hemric overshot his pit stall, causing Gragson, in the adjacent stall, to wait for him so he could pull into his. Once Gragson pulled forward, he then reversed and tapped Hemric’s car in the process.

All seemed well, as both finished in the top 10. Then came interview time, which may have well have been “Right That Bell!” from The Jerry Springer Show.

Gragson was being interviewed, thanking Hendrick engines and his sponsors so on, when Hemric walked up, shoved him and said “If you EVER…”, and then the mics weren’t able to catch the rest.

Shoving ensued, and both threw punches.

Here’s a video of the incident that led to the brawl.

To be fair, Gragson, who is no stranger to confrontations, is becoming as known for his pugilism as much as he is for his driving skills.

This is the second fight he’s had in eight months. The previous bout was between him and Harrison Burton at Kentucky Speedway in July 2020.

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Additionally, just a few weeks earlier at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he accidentally ran into veteran driver David Starr after Starr had a late tire issue, costing Gragson a win. The issue came with just over two laps remaining, and Gragson had a huge lead.

This was not the end of it, though. Gragson gave Starr a thorough tongue lashing, going as far as calling referring to backmarker drivers as “dipsh*ts”. That particular episode drew the ire of Gragson’s team owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt predictably hoped that he would eventually learn to respect the more experienced drivers and learn from them.

Related Story. Team owner slams Noah Gragson. light

It’s not that I or anyone else is advocating for violence, as we could honestly all use much less of that, especially amid the heightened tensions of the COVID-19 era, but it is nice to see some passion again.

Gragson and Hemric aren’t exactly household names (yet), but they are up and coming stars in the Xfinity Series. Time will tell if this develops into a long-term feud or if cooler heads prevail and they go back to being the well-mannered corporate sycophants NASCAR wants them to be.

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Although Hemric was the aggressor in the post-race fight shenanigans, he arguably lost the fight, and the headlines. Gragson is gaining national attention as the “tell it like it is” driver of this era, and he is going to win a lot of fans who have been hungry for a gritty and aggressive driver for years.