Noah Gragson’s brief time at Legacy Motor Club is over.
The team announced Thursday that Gragson had been released from his contract. The release, the team said, came upon Gragson's request. He had been suspended indefinitely by both the team and by NASCAR.
“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.”
Shortly after Gragson was suspended by Legacy for what the team said were “actions that do not represent the values of our team,” NASCAR suspended him indefinitely for his “actions on social media.” Per screenshots that widely circulated on social media, Gragson liked an Instagram meme that mocked the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Before NASCAR officially suspended him, Gragson issued an apology for his “lack of attention and actions on social media” and said that “I try to treat everyone equally no matter who they are. I messed up plain and simple.”
Legacy Motor Club announced Tuesday that sports car driver Mike Rockenfeller would drive the No. 42 car at Indianapolis on Sunday and at Watkins Glen on Aug. 20. There was no mention of Gragson's name in the announcement in a foreshadowing of Gragson's future with the team.
Gragson, 25, was in his first year at Legacy Motor Club and in his first full Cup Series season after four full-time seasons in the Xfinity Series. His rookie season had been a disappointing one on the track; Gragson’s average finish over 21 races is 28th and he had just two finishes inside the top 20.
With Legacy Motor Club not near the top of the Cup Series pecking order, it was a bit foolish to expect immediate success from Gragson after he won eight races in the second-tier Xfinity Series in 2022. But he finished 30th or worse in 10 of his starts and his future with the team was in question. According to an earlier story in The Athletic, it was unclear before the suspension if Legacy Motor Club would retain Gragson after the 2023 season. The team is switching to Toyota from Chevrolet for 2024.
Gragson entered the Cup Series as one of the most polarizing drivers in the Xfinity Series. He was penalized 30 points for intentionally causing a big crash at Road America in 2022 and backed into another competitor’s car on pit road during a race in 2021.