Noah Gragson won’t return to Legacy Motor Club, ending a relationship that appeared strained even before his recent NASCAR suspension.
Gragson was 33rd in the NASCAR Cup Series standings in his rookie season (he did miss one race because of concussion-type symptoms) when the team and NASCAR suspended him Saturday for liking a racially insensitive social media post about the death of George Floyd.
“I have asked Legacy Motor Club to release me from my contract so that I can take time to work through the NASCAR reinstatement process,” Gragson said in a statement.
“I love racing, and I am looking forward to a second chance to compete for wins at the highest level of NASCAR — and most importantly, make my family, my team and the fans proud of me once again.”
The NASCAR suspension is indefinite with the length of the reinstatement process, which includes sensitivity training, tailored to the driver and what occurred to violate the NASCAR Code of Conduct.
Legacy Motor Club, co-owned by seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Allegiant Airlines owner Maury Gallagher, used Josh Berry to fill in for Gragson last weekend at Michigan and had announced Tuesday that road-course star Mike Rockenfeller would replace Gragson for the next two races (both road courses) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Watkins Glen.
When the organization announced in May that it would move from Chevrolet to Toyota, the team indicated that both of its drivers, Erik Jones and Gragson, would return next season. But as Gragson’s struggles continued (Jones, a veteran driver, has an average finish of 19.2 while Gragson’s was at 28.2), it appeared the team was considering replacing Gragson with Toyota driver John Hunter Nemechek next year, although no decision had been made as of last week.
“Noah has a ton of talent and has a great personality,” Legacy CEO Cal Wells said in a statement. “This is a difficult situation, but we are proud that Noah has taken ownership of his actions and are confident he will work through this process with NASCAR and come back stronger.”
The 25-year-old Gragson had 13 wins in the Xfinity Series, including eight victories in 2022. He apologized Saturday for his actions.
“I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media,” Gragson posted on Twitter. “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.”
The NASCAR Code of Conduct is a broad policy that covers social-media posts.
“NASCAR members shall not make or cause to be made a public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition,” the rule states.
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.
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