NASCAR suspends Cup Series rookie Noah Gragson for liking insensitive meme with George Floyd’s face

AP photo by Jason Minto / Legacy Motor Club driver Noah Gragson, a NASCAR Cup Series rookie, prepares for the start of a May 1 race at Delaware's Dover Motor Speedway.

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Noah Gragson has been suspended indefinitely by both NASCAR and his team, Legacy Motor Club, due to the 25-year-old driver liking an insensitive meme with a photo of George Floyd's face.

"I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media," Gragson posted Saturday. "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."

NASCAR said Gragson violated the member conduct of its rule book, without providing details.

"His actions do not represent the values of our team," Legacy Motor Club said in a release.

Gragson, a Las Vegas native, is in his first full season in the Cup Series and is No. 33 points, well below the cutline for the 16-driver playoff field with four races remaining in the regular season.

Josh Berry will replace Gragson in the No. 42 Chevrolet in Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway. Berry has already competed this season as an injury fill-in for Hendrick Motorsports and Chevy drivers Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott, and he is set to take over the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford when Kevin Harvick retires after this season.

Floyd, who was Black, died in 2020 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes. His death sparked mass protests around the world and forced a national reckoning on racial injustice as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the wake of Floyd's death, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at events and venues after Bubba Wallace — its lone Black driver — said there was "no place" for it in the sport. Earlier that year, Cup Series driver Kyle Larson used a racial slur while competing in a virtual race during the coronavirus pandemic. Chip Ganassi Racing fired Larson and he was suspended by NASCAR, which required him to complete a sensitivity training course for reinstatement.

Larson was hired by Hendrick and won the 2021 Cup Series title.