From NASCAR to IMSA to good ol’ dirt track racing, this weekend has seen tons of great on-track action—but some of it has been... a little bit strange. So, let’s run through some of the weirdest things to happen in the racing world this weekend, shall we?
Here’s one that really left me scratching my head. After qualifying for IMSA’s 12 Hours of Sebring event, the No. 19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo was penalized. While it should have started on pole, the GTD machine was instead relegated to the back of the grid.
Why? It had a WiFi hotspot.
If you’re wondering what a hotspot has to do with racing, it violates IMSA’s rules because it qualifies as a piece of telemetry, which is not allowed in the series. The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R was promoted to pole position instead.
Here’s another head-scratcher that had the whole internet up in arms. During a pit cycle in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, No. 9 driver Noah Gragson arrived at his pit box to find that No. 18 Daniel Hemric was parked too far up in the box. Hemric reversed, then Gragson pulled into his own pit on a strange angle.
And then he backed up, almost hitting Hemric’s crew.
Basically, Hemric pulled too far into Gragson’s pit box during the stop, then backed up into his own box. Gragson responded by backing up into Hemric’s car. Hemric explained it like this:
“He (Gragson) had no idea what was going on out on the race track,” he said. “ We come down pit road and the guy pitted behind us when you accelerate when I was pulling into my box and it made me have to steer around the guy going to the 9’s (Gragson) box. I backed up and yes, it messed up both of our pit stops. I backed up and he decided to put it in reverse and cram into the right-front fender and knock a hole in our Poppy Bank Toyota Supra nose. We had to pit again and fix it. That was completely deliberate and it was absolutely ridiculous. Where I come from, you get punched in the eye for that.”
Gragson responded after the race by saying, “I don’t know why he’s mad. I mean, I was behind him coming onto pit because we corded our right front tire, and he was in our pit box. I had to come around him and not really sure why he’s there. Had to back up to get there.
“I’d be mad if I was in his shoes too, just based off what he’s done in his career. It is what it is. We’ll move on and keep on fighting.”
There was, of course, a post-race scuffle that ended with no punches making contact after the pit crew pulled everyone apart. Gragson later posted this video on his Twitter account:
A lot of folks are upset because this has become a worrying part of Gragson’s identity as a driver: he can be a little hot-headed and aggressive in ways that put other drivers in danger. Other folks are upset at everyone being upset, because they’re itching for a driver that throws PR caution to the wind.
Whatever the case, NASCAR is reviewing the incident and will announce a decision later in the week.
There were more than a handful accidents in yesterday’s 12 Hours of Sebring, but one of the most vicious was that of LMP2 driver Timothé Buret. Sebring is a notoriously difficult track, in large part because it’s a hot, bumpy mess, and Buret appeared to wiggle over the bumps in Turn 1 as he came around the corner. He lost control, plowing right into the tire barriers before rolling completely over.
More Twitter drama ensued as users argued over whether or not to “respect the bumps” or “repave Sebring,” but whatever the case, Buret and the No. 8 team were entirely out of the race. They were running second in class at the time of the accident, but thankfully Buret walked away okay.
Sammy Swindell and Justin Zimmerman had a huge moment during the 48th annual Devil’s Bowl Spring Nationals, one of the highlight weekends of the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series. The two drivers made contact and went off on a series of flips. Both drivers walked away, but as you can imagine, no one was happy.
“We got a car destroyed by a kid,” Swindell said. “I don’t know what these kids think about. All you gotta do is buy a pit pass to get to drive. You don’t have to qualify. You don’t have to do nothing. You just show up with money, and you run over shit.”