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Every Punch Thrown in the 2023 NASCAR Season

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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The Daily Downforce Presents All The Punches Thrown Throughout the 2023 NASCAR Season

Hot tempers tend to come with the territory in NASCAR racing, considering its close-quarters nature. And, sometimes, those hot tempers will lead drivers to react in more ways than just a cross statement in a post-race interview or on social media. Sometimes, it spills over into physical territory.

Every year in NASCAR, there are always moments where tempers go too far and actual punches are thrown. The 2023 season was no different. Here are every physical punch/altercation to happen during the 2023 NASCAR season.

Also Read:

Noah Gragson vs. Ross Chastain (Cup at Kansas, May 2023)

This one seems like so long ago. After all, Noah Gragson didn’t compete in the last quarter-plus of the 2023 season. Man, 2023 was a long one! This specific altercation between Gragson and everyone’s favorite NASCAR garage roughneck, Ross Chastain, happened all the way back in May of 2023 after the conclusion of the first Kansas race of the year.

This altercation happened after (surprise!) Ross Chastain was a complete menace on the track. Earlier in the race, he got into both Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell (Busch actually retaliated on-track) and, later, he over-drove a corner and ran up the track, squeezing Noah Gragson into the wall.

Noah, who had an abysmal 2023 even before the suspension, was frustrated and didn’t take kindly to being raced that way. After the conclusion of the race, he approached Chastain on pit road and made the mistake of grabbing the collar of Chastain’s fire suit. The two exchanged words and, then, Chastain threw a vicious right hook in Gragson’s direction. Noah tried to get some punches in himself but the fight was quickly broken up before he could land any.

In a video provided by FOX Sports and tweeted out by our friend over at Black Flags Matter, Darian Gilliam, you can see footage of the fight which, somewhat hilariously, interrupts a Kyle Larson interview.

Here, tweeted by NASCAR on FOX, you can see a different angle of the altercation with enhanced audio and subtitles. The FOX crew also breaks down the whole incident.

Here, NASCAR on NBC shows the initial on-track contact:

Around the Garage

Kyle Busch, who was also involved in an incident on the track that day, commented on the fight during the post-race press conference. Here is the video provided by Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports:

DBC also put their two cents in…

In The Stands

As always, NASCAR fans had something to say about this altercation. Most took Noah’s side on account of the “sucker punch”.

For more on the story, you can also read this article published by the Daily Downforce:

Jeb Burton vs. Chandler Smith (Xfinity at Portland, June 2023)

Cup wasn’t the only place where tempers sizzled over into a physical altercation! Following the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Portland Road Course back in June, Jeb Burton got into a scuffle with Chandler Smith and his former team of Kaulig Racing.

The incident occurred after a frustrating race for Smith as he punted the No. 27 of Burton out of the way heading into Turn 1. Burton battled back hard, cutting Smith off, and heading into the next turn, Smith dumped Burton, sending him around and spinning into the grass.

Jeb Burton confronted Chandler Smith and his Kaulig team. While not a lot of actual footage of the fight was shown, there was apparent pushing and shoving on both sides. After Burton and Smith and his crew were separated, Burton’s former boss in Kaulig President Chris Rice tried to talk him down, seemingly to no avail. You can catch the on-track incident as well as the aftermath on pit road in the video clip below.

Fronstretch caught up with Burton following the altercation. Check out that clip below.

Around the Garage

Frontstetch also caught up with Kaulig President, Chris Rice. You can check out his response below:

In The Stands

Fans were very vocal about this altercation online. Overall, they showed Jeb Burton little love.

Crafton vs. Sanchez (Trucks at Talladega, October 2023)

I think this is the one that will stick out in the minds of most NASCAR fans and Daily Downforce readers, not only because it is the most recent but also because of the nature of it. This was the mean-spirited all-out brawl we saw between Truck Series Regulars Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez long after the race had wrapped up and everyone had tuned out. This is the fight that saw Crafton jump Sanchez in the garage area, bloody him, and after they were separated, Sanchez spouted death threats.

Again, this fight derived from an on-track accident during the fall Craftsman Truck Series race at Talladega. The incident in question occurred as Nick Sanchez in his No. 2 Chevy truck turned Matt Crafton, triggering a massive BIG ONE as the laps were winding down in the race. The wreck ended Crafton’s day but Sanchez was able to continue.

After the wreck, Matt Crafton drove directly to the Sanchez pit stall and parked his No. 88 Menards Ford there.

What reportedly happened was that Matt Crafton, who had the time to change into his street clothes, tapped Sanchez on the shoulder in the garage area and sucker punched him. Sanchez went down bleeding and the crews and officials were there to break it up before it could get any further.

That did not stop Sanchez and Crafton, however, from shouting obscenities at one another as they were separated.

Toby Christie also caught up with Nick Sanchez after being looked at by the doctors at the in-field care center.

From The Officials

Shockingly, this fight resulted only in a monetary fine between the two drivers. No points deduction nor suspension was ever handed out.

In The Stands

The fans came down hard on both Crafton and Sanchez. Many criticized Crafton for acting this way, sucker punch and all, when he’s supposed to be the mature veteran around the garage. Meanwhile, other fans criticized Sanchez over his death threats.

Either way, almost everyone agreed that this was an awful look for NASCAR, both drivers involved and the Craftsman Truck Series as a whole.

Conclusion

Only time will tell what kind of (if any) fist-flying action we’ll see come 2024. Hopefully, nothing too severe, though I realize that it makes for great headlines in the world of NASCAR. What are some of your favorite moments from the 2023 season? Be sure and comment on our socials and let us know. Who knows? Some of your suggestions might just end up in a Daily Downforce article in the future!

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts