NASCAR has suspended driver Noah Gragson indefinitely, the company announced Saturday, after he showed approval for an insensitive meme featuring a photo of George Floyd on social media.
Gragson, 25, is in the midst of his first full season in NASCAR’s Cup series when he was replaced Saturday by Josh Berry in the No. 42 car, the team said in a statement. Legacy Motor Club, who owns the car, said Gragson’s “actions do not represent the values of our team” in their announcement of the suspension.
NASCAR said in their statement that Gragson’s suspension stems from him violating the Member Conduct section of the rules.
On the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Gragson acknowledged his actions without directly addressing the George Floyd meme in his statement.
“I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media,” Gragson said in the statement. “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.”
Gragson’s apparent approval for the meme was reported by TMZ, which published a screenshot appearing to show it came from an account belonging to the racing star. The offensive meme included a photo of Floyd’s face and an inappropriate reference to the tragedy that occurred on May 25, 2020, when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes.
Following video of his agonizing death, protests occurred throughout the summer, and four officers involved in the case were successfully prosecuted at the state and federal levels.
Though NASCAR simply termed the suspension “indefinite,” drivers with past indefinite suspensions have later been allowed to rejoin the sport.
Chevrolet, the nameplate of the No. 42 car driven by Gragson, also released a statement affirming that “Noah’s actions do not align with our beliefs and brand values” and said they will be discussing next steps with Legacy Motor Club.
NASCAR had arrived at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday for Cup racing and lower series events, with an eye towards the showcase of the weekend—the Firekeepers Casino 400. Gragson, however, could not partake in the thrilling racing that is sure to come.