Noah Gragson suspended indefinitely by Legacy Motor Club and NASCAR for social media conduct

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 04: Noah Gragson, driver of the #42 Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Noah Gragson has been suspended by his team and NASCAR indefinitely after his Instagram history came to light.

A Twitter account highlighted a meme from earlier this year mocking the death of George Floyd during an arrest in police custody in Minneapolis that spurred the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, which was ‘liked’ by Noah Gragson.

NASCAR embraced the movement as well, rallying behind the Cup Series’ lone Black driver Bubba Wallace, who publicly backed Black Lives Matter while driving for Richard Petty Motorsports. That team has since rebranded into Legacy Motor Club following a buy-in by Jimmie Johnson, and it’s the team that Gragson currently drives for in the Cup Series. Wallace has since left for 23XI Racing.

Daniel McFadin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette picked up the story on Twitter and brought it to national attention on Saturday and reached out to Chevrolet and Legacy Motor Club representatives.

After verifying Gragson’s support for the racially insensitive post, the team announced that it had suspended Noah Gragson two hours later.

“We have made the decision to suspend Noah Gragson effective immediately regarding his actions that do not represent the values of our team. Josh Berry will drive the No. 42 entry for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan.”

Minutes later, Gragson posted his own apology to Twitter.

“I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media,” he wrote. “I understand the severity of the situation. I love and appreciate everyone. I try to treat everyone equally no matter who they are. I messed up plain and simple.”

The sanctioning body followed with its own condemnation an hour later, expressing support for Legacy Motor Club’s decision and adding that Gragson was also suspended from the sport itself indefinitely.

“NASCAR fully supports Legacy Motor Club’s decision to suspend Noah Gragson,” the statement read. “Following his actions on social media, NASCAR has determined that Gragson has violated the Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book and placed him under indefinite suspension.”

The statement confirms that Gragson’s suspension will last for the foreseeable future, independent of Legacy’s own policies, and could even affect his eligibility to compete next season. That adds another layer to an already precarious position for the rookie driver’s Cup Series future.

With Legacy Motor Club having decided to switch from Chevrolet to Toyota, longtime Chevy driver Noah Gragson’s job looked at risk, and his stats this season have not done anything to help his chances. He’s scored no wins, no top-tens, and just one top-twenty finish at superspeedway-style Atlanta this season, giving him a 28.2 average finish and putting him in 33rd in the points standings, the worst of any full-time driver.

Gragson ran far better in the Xfinity Series, finishing second in the championship last year while tying the record for most consecutive wins at four. Plus, as CupScene editor Greg Engle noted at Forbes, Gragson had fully embraced his partnership with Wendy’s, which was paying dividends for both the brand and his team.

Past performances and sponsorship support like that meant the No. 31 Kaulig Racing seat, recently vacated by Justin Haley, looked like a viable option. Gragson had previously made part-time starts for the team before signing with Legacy, but a suspension does him no favors in getting the ride full-time.

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 13: Noah Gragson, driver of the #42 Sunseeker Resorts Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 13, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Notably, Gragson does have a multi-year contract with the team. The suspension could provide the breach of contract for the team to cite if Legacy does want to get rid of Gragson early.

Super-sub Josh Berry is the only benefactor. He’s competing full-time in the Xfinity Series this season, but he’s already subbed for Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman, and he impressed with a second-place finish at Richmond driving the No. 9 in the spring race.

Competing in the No. 42 at Michigan gives him valuable extra experience before he moves up to the Cup Series full-time next season to replace the retiring Kevin Harvick.

Owen Johnson