This past Saturday at the Craftsman Truck Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway, Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez got into an altercation that ultimately left Sanchez bloodied.
According to NBC Sports,Sanchez told reporters that Crafton tapped him on the back and then punched him, in what he called a “cheap shot,” but it’s unclear how the fight actually started.
Crafton took to Twitter (now called X) to tell his side of the story as well, effectively disputing that it was a cheap shot. In fact, he says he was threatened first and then the punches started flying. He said he said “hey” to Sanchez, and when he turned around, Crafton said:
“I said ‘what the f*ck?’ to which he looked at me and threatened me… words were exchanged, all before anything physical took place, so I did not ‘sucker punch’ the guy.”
It all started because Crafton was upset with Sanchez for making contact with him in the final laps of the race, ultimately causing him to wreck on Lap 93. The crash ended Crafton’s day, and bagged up eight other trucks along with him.
Crafton stopped his wrecked truck in Sanchez’s pits and exited.
NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that officials considered a suspension for the two, before deciding to fine Crafton $25,000 and Sanchez $5,000.
Sawyer explained the $25,000 suspension for Crafton:
“Matt had had some time to think about the situation. It wasn’t like both drivers got out on pit road, heat of the battle, they go down and have a discussion with each other.
This one spilled over into the garage sometime after the event, so felt like it could have been handled different, and that’s why Matt’s fine was at $25,000.”
Video of the altercation also showed Sanchez yelling back to Crafton:
“I’m going to f*cking kill you at Homestead! You f*cked with the wrong guy!”
Sawyer then explained the $5,000 fine for Sanchez:
“We felt like some of the comments that were made by Nick, and we totally understand that’s in the heat of the battle, understanding the situation, but we just can’t have those type of comments. That’s why he received the fine that he received.”
Either way, a slap on the wrist for all involved.
NASCAR intends to meet with both drivers at Homestead. Rene Sanchez, the father of Nick, has also been suspended for the remainder of the 2023 NASCAR schedule for his role in the fight. He was caught on video throwing punches in defense of his son.
Sawyer weighed in on his suspension:
“If you look at the video, there were punches thrown in that situation. … Again, no different than crew members getting involved, or any other industry folks that shouldn’t be involved in that.
I get it, it’s a dad. We understand that, but we have to make sure that that’s just not tolerated. We can’t let that happen. That’s why we reacted the way we did.”