John Raoux / AP file
NASCAR said Saturday that driver Noah Gragson has been banned for life. The decision was made after it looked like the driver liked an offensive meme on social media that used a picture of George Floyd.
Josh Berry took over the No. 42 car from Gragson on Saturday. Gragson, who is 25, was in the middle of his first full season as a driver in NASCAR’s top league, the Cup Series.
Legacy Motor Club said that Gragson has been suspended because his actions “don’t reflect the values of our team.”
NBC Sports reported that NASCAR said Gragson broke the rules about member conduct, which say, in part, that members shouldn’t talk badly about people in public because of their background.
NASCAR said the suspension would be “an indefinite amount of time.” However, drivers who have been suspended for an indefinite time in the past have had chances to return to NASCAR.
In a statement on platform X, which used to be called Twitter, Gragson didn’t directly talk about the alleged meme, but he did own up to what he did.
The racing star doesn’t say that exactly, but what he said on X Saturday seems to support the idea that he was suspended because he liked the George Floyd meme.
“I’m upset with myself for not paying enough attention to and acting on social media,” the racing star said in a tweet on Saturday. “I’m aware of how bad this situation is. I care about and love everyone. No matter who they are, I try to treat everyone the same. Plain and simple, I made a mistake.”
When asked for more information about why Gragson was suspended, neither NASCAR nor Legacy responded immediately. Fox Sports said that NASCAR confirmed the suspension was due to the meme.
TMZ said on Saturday that it looked like Gragson liked the post. They posted a screenshot that seemed to show that it came from an account that belonged to Gragson. The meme shows Floyd’s face and says that he will die on May 25, 2020, after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for 9.5 minutes.
Officers looking into a report of a fake $20 bill being passed at a market stopped Floyd, who was black.
A video of his painful death sparked protests throughout the country during the summer, and the four officers involved were successfully charged at the state and federal levels.
Gragson was suspended when NASCAR spent the weekend at Michigan International Speedway for Cup races and other events leading up to the Firekeepers Casino 400, which was the main event.
Chevrolet, whose name is on Legacy Motor Club’s No. 42 car, said in a statement Saturday, “Noah’s actions go against what we believe and what our brand stands for. We’ll work with Legacy Motor Club to determine what to do next.”