NASCAR driver released after social media post reaction

Noah Gragson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Noah Gragson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Noah Gragson has been released by the Legacy Motor Club NASCAR Cup Series team just days after being found to have liked an insensitive social media post.

Just days after it was discovered that he had “liked” an Instagram post featuring a The Little Mermaid-themed meme mocking the death of George Floyd, NASCAR Cup Series rookie Noah Gragson has been released by Legacy Motor Club.

Gragson reportedly requested his release from his contract with the team, though the release was more or less expected regardless.

The 25-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native was suspended by Legacy Motor Club just before practice and qualifying at Michigan International Speedway this past Saturday, and NASCAR responded by indefinitely suspending him themselves. He was replaced by JR Motorsports Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry at Michigan.

It was later announced that Mike Rockenfeller would be returning to the Cup Series to replace him behind the wheel of the No. 42 Chevrolet in this coming weekend’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as well as in next weekend’s race at Watkins Glen International.

Plans for the NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway and the entire four-round, 10-race playoffs had not been announced.

Now, of course, it has been confirmed that Gragson will not be a part of them. But that is as far as the team have gotten up to this point, though other possibilities have already been floated.

Even before the social media controversy, Gragson had been rumored to be on the “hot seat”, so he was likely on a bit of a shorter leash that other drivers would have been. We have, after all, seen drivers simply forced to take sensitivity training after similar instances of insensitive behavior on social media.

Gragson, who did miss a race in June with a head injury he suffered in a crash, was set to enter the Michigan race in 33rd (last) place in the point standings among full-time drivers with just two top 20 finishes and just one finish higher than 25th since the end of March. His best finish in 21 starts this year was only a 12th place effort at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series driver John Hunter Nemechek had been linked to Legacy Motor Club as Gragson’s replacement next year, with the team set to switch from Chevrolet to Toyota. Gragson’s official release makes the addition of Nemechek that much more likely.