NASCAR driver Noah Gragson has been suspended indefinitely for his social media conduct. The 25-year-old driver, who currently competes for Legacy Motor Club, was suspended after he “liked” an insensitive meme on Instagram that depicted the face of George Floyd.
The meme, which was posted by another user, showed Floyd’s face Photoshopped onto a movie character from Disney’s Little Mermaid — Sebastian — with the caption, “under the knee.” Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in 2020 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
NASCAR and Legacy Motor Club both released statements on Saturday announcing Gragson’s suspension. NASCAR said that Gragson’s actions “violated the Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book.” Legacy Motor Club said that Gragson’s actions “do not represent the values of our team.”
Gragson has since apologized for his actions. “I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media,” he said in a statement. “I understand the severity of this situation. I love and appreciate everyone.”
Gragson’s suspension is the latest in a series of high-profile incidents involving NASCAR drivers and social media. In 2013, driver Kyle Busch was suspended for two races after he used a homophobic slur on Twitter. And in 2018, driver Bubba Wallace was the target of a noose that was found in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR has taken a zero-tolerance approach to social media conduct in recent years. The sanctioning body has a clear set of guidelines for drivers and teams, and any violations can result in suspensions or other penalties.
Gragson’s suspension is a reminder that NASCAR drivers are held to a higher standard of conduct. They are role models for young fans, and their actions have the potential to impact the sport’s reputation.