NASCAR reinstates driver suspended over social media meme

Noah Gragson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Gragson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Noah Gragson has officially been reinstated by NASCAR, though he does not have a Cup Series ride to return to after being released by Legacy Motor Club.

Back before the NASCAR Cup Series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway in early August, Legacy Motor Club rookie Noah Gragson was discovered to have “liked” a The Little Mermaid-themed meme mocking the death of George Floyd on Instagram.

Shortly thereafter, Legacy Motor Club and NASCAR suspended him indefinitely, with the latter mandating he take a sensitivity training course before being allowed to return.

But a few days later, Gragson ultimately requested his release from the team, and his request was granted, leaving the No. 42 Chevrolet in need of replacement drivers for the remainder of the season.

Now NASCAR has officially reinstated Noah Gragson.

While he does not have any NASCAR plans at the moment, the 25-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native, who expressed sincere regret over the action which led to the suspension, has made clear that he hopes to make the most of his second chance.

Even before the issue arose with the Instagram meme, Gragson was viewed as being on the hot seat due to poor performance, which may very well have contributed to his request for release.

In 21 starts this year, his only two top 20 finishes were results of 12th and 20th place, and he found himself in last among full-time drivers in the point standings, well behind teammate Erik Jones.

Although Toyota had announced that they were looking forward to working with him again in 2024 amid Legacy Motor Club’s planned manufacturer switch from Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series driver John Hunter Nemechek had been rumored to take his place.

About a month after Gragson’s release, Nemechek was officially confirmed as the driver of the No. 42 Toyota for the 2024 season.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Since Gragson’s most recent start at Richmond Raceway in late July, three drivers have spent time behind the wheel of the No. 42 Chevrolet, including Josh Berry, Mike Rockenfeller, and Carson Hocevar. Hocevar is set to be back behind the wheel for this Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Playoff plans for the entry beyond that remain unconfirmed.