In a Tuesday interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Gragson was unrepentant about his frustration with Starr’s tire failure with three laps to go that sent him into the Turn 3 wall and into race leader Gragson’s path.
Shortly after the incident, Gragson was exasperated over “dips—- in the way every single week” in comments to FS1. Starr’s car owner, Carl Long, later responded on Facebook by calling Gragson an “over entitled mouthpiece.”
“I don’t feel any differently,” Gragson said Tuesday. “I’m friends with drivers, car owners and people in that side of the garage, and I understand the battles that they’re going through. But I don’t feel any differently.
“… I feel like in this form of motorsports, you should be able to feel a tire cording. You should be able to hear the cords unraveling with how bad that tire was. We corded a right front tire in the first stage.
“It’s really hard to get your point across with uneducated people or ignorant people, so I’m just kind of over it at this point.”
ICYMI: @NoahGragson tells #TMDNASCAR his feelings about the late race contact with David Starr (@starr_racing) haven't changed since Saturday night. @TheMikeBagley | @PPistone | @NASCAR_Xfinity pic.twitter.com/TrRCQhmWUm
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) March 2, 2021
Gragson also touched on his closing laps prior to the incident with Starr. He maintained that he was running at 50 percent throttle and trying to save fuel.
While doing that, he was playing “mind games” with Brett Moffitt after passing him for the lead on Lap 137 by backing down his pace and trying to force Moffitt into making a mistake while pursuing him.
With 10 laps to left, Moffitt got into the wall while behind a lapped car and had to subsequently pit for a flat tire.
But with the race seemingly in hand, Gragson still kept running against the wall – a point of criticism from some on social media after he ran into Starr.
“The reason why I ran up against the wall is because the car has yaw in it,” Gragson said. “The right rear of the car is closer to the wall than the right front, and the air traveling the right side of the nose, down the right side of the body, all that air has to go somewhere. … It pushes up in between the right rear of the car and the wall, and that allows for more stability. … All that air, it really secures the car up and adds stability to the car and side force. When you run up there, it’s a lot more efficient, a lot quicker.
“And saving fuel – when you go to the bottom, you almost have to park the car. When you’re running against the wall, you can keep your momentum up. It’s like going to a stop light and hauling (butt) up to a red light and then stopping when you have to go again and re-accelerate from a lower minimum speed. It’s just wasting more fuel. You have to be in the throttle longer. So there’s a couple different reasons why I was running up there. It’s always easy to be the Monday morning quarterback or the couch racer.”
However, while Gragson was assured in those stances, he didn’t sound that way when asked if there’s a problem in the Xfinity Series with lapped cars racing against the leaders as they close in from behind (Starr was directly ahead of Gragson at the time of his tire failure, but was on the lead lap).
“I think there’s a lot of great drivers in the Xfinity Series, a majority of the field,” Gragson said. “You’re gonna have this – I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s just the nature of the beast. I mean, it’s – I don’t know. It sucks. I guess I’m just kind of flustered right now, with my opinion on it.
“The only thing I can say publicly is there are a few guys who are more challenging to race, but I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s just the nature of the beast.”
As for Starr, he shared his side of the story in his podcast, “Let’s Go Racing with David Starr.” He said that he and Gragson met after the race.
“I said, ‘Man, I sure in the heck didn’t want you to wreck,'” Starr recalled. “I didn’t want to wreck. It’s not often us small teams like Carl Long’s team … Our budgets are very small, and when you have chance to run in the top 15, it’s almost like a win for us.
“To finish 12th or have an opportunity if somebody ran out of gas to finish in the top 10, that would’ve been big for us teams that are not your big powerhouse teams. It’s just racing and it’s just a shame that it turned out that way, but it does. It happens.”
Starr went on to say he had no grudge against Gragson and wanted to move on.