Rookie NASCAR Cup Series driver Noah Gragson was handed an indefinite suspension on August 5, 2023 by both his race team Legacy Motor Club and sanctioning body NASCAR over an offensive social media activity.
The suspension came just a day before a NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, where Gragson was set to drive the No. 42 Chevrolet for Legacy Motor Club.
Legacy Motor Club announced in a statement that it has suspended Gragson “effective immediately regarding his actions that do not represent the values of our team.”
The team did not provide specifics on Gragson’s violation, however NASCAR soon clarified that he was suspended for violating member conduct rules laid out in Section 4.4.D of the NASCAR Rule Book.
Section 4.4.D allows NASCAR to suspend any member for “Statement and/or communication made public (including social media platforms) that demeans, criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”
It was revealed Gragson had recently liked an insensitive Instagram post that appeared to make light of the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.
NASCAR stated it “fully supports Legacy Motor Club’s decision to suspend Noah Gragson” and has also imposed an indefinite suspension on the 25-year-old driver for his social media activity.
Gragson took to Twitter to issue an apology over the situation:
“I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media. I understand the severity of this situation. I love and appreciate everyone. I try to treat everyone equally no matter who they are. I messed up plain and simple.”
With Gragson out, Legacy Motor Club has named Xfinity Series regular Josh Berry as his replacement in the No. 42 for this weekend’s race at Michigan. Berry has previous Cup experience this season, filling in for injured Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman.
Chevrolet, which supplies engines to Legacy Motor Club’s NASCAR teams, also released a statement that it supports the suspension decisions by both Legacy and NASCAR.
“Noah’s actions do not align with our beliefs and brand values. We will work with Legacy Motor Club on next steps.” said Chevrolet officials.
The suspension lengths for Gragson from both his team and NASCAR were not announced, only being termed indefinite for the time being.
The situation serves as a stark reminder that a driver’s actions on social media, even a simple like, can violate rules of conduct and carry serious real-world consequences from their team and sanctioning body.
At just 25 years old, Gragson is in his rookie Cup season after finishing runner-up in the Xfinity Series last year.
He had struggled to find consistency in the No. 42 Chevrolet in his first year, sitting 33rd in Cup standings without a single top-10 finish prior to his suspension.
It remains to be seen how long his suspension may last, and what the next steps are in getting back to competing.