NASCAR reinstates suspended driver Noah Gragson: What this means for his career

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Suspended NASCAR driver Noah Gragson was reinstated by the sanctioning body on Tuesday, opening the door for him to return to NASCAR-sanctioned competition should he decide to do so.
Gragson, 25, was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Aug. 5 after it became public that he liked an insensitive meme on social media. Screenshots appeared to show that he liked a meme on Instagram making light of the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in May 2020. Floyd’s death drew widespread outrage after video circulated online showing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee on Floyd’s neck as he gasped for breath. Chauvin was convicted of murder in April 2021.
As part of NASCAR’s reinstatement process, Gragson was required to complete sensitivity training. Other conditions of his reinstatement are not known.
“I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media,” Gragson tweeted after the suspension had been announced. “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.”
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Legacy Motor Club and Gragson, a rookie in the Cup Series, parted ways on Aug. 10. The team has used various replacements to drive its No. 42 Cup Series entry since Gragson’s suspension and subsequent departure and announced last week that John Hunter Nemechek would drive the car full-time in 2024.
What does this mean for Gragson?
Gragson’s career is by no means over, but it definitely suffered a setback. In a sponsor-driven sport dependent on corporate funding, teams and/or sponsors may have reservations on associating with a driver who’s had a multitude of transgressions, beyond just his recent suspension. It is possible Gragson could secure a ride by bringing his own funding to a team.
Should Gragson decide he wants to return to NASCAR on a full-time basis, his best option in the immediate future is likely finding a ride with a team in either NASCAR’s second-tier Xfinity Series or third-tier Truck Series. If he does that, has success on the track and remains out of trouble, the possibility exists that he one day could return to Cup.
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(Photo: James Gilbert / Getty Images)

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