Mike Rockenfeller to replace suspended Noah Gragson in next NASCAR Cup Series races

FILE - Noah Gragson looks out onto the track before a NASCAR Xfinity Series auto racing practice session at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Homestead, Fla. Gragson has been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and Legacy Motor Club due to undisclosed activity on social media. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

STATESVILLE, N.C.Mike Rockenfeller, a two-time Le Mans winner, has been chosen to replace suspended driver Noah Gragson in the next two NASCAR Cup Series races.

Legacy Motor Club CEO Cal Wells announced Tuesday that Rockenfeller will be in the No. 42 Chevrolet this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and in the following race at Watkins Glen.

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Gragson has not been released, according to Wells.

“Noah is suspended indefinitely by NASCAR so we will have to identify drivers to compete in the No. 42 in the interim,” Wells said. “NASCAR will determine the timeline when Noah can return to the sport. We are working with Noah and his representation through this process.”

Gragson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Saturday after liking an insensitive meme with a photo of George Floyd’s face. Floyd, who was Black, died in 2020 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes.

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

The 25-year-old Gragson, a Cup series rookie from Las Vegas, is in his first full season in the Cup series and is No. 33 in points. Gragson posted on social media that he was disappointed in himself.

The 39-year-old Rockenfeller finished 29th and 30th in two Cup races last year. The German teamed with Legacy co-owner Jimmie Johnson and former F1 driver Jenson Button on the Garage 56 project that NASCAR took to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Rockenfeller did most of the car development for NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports on the Garage 56 project.

Rockenfeller joins a long list of road racing experts entered into Sunday's event at Indianapolis, including Button, Brodie Kostecki, Andy Lally, Kamui Kobayashi, and Shane van Gisbergen, winner of NASCAR's inaugural street course race in downtown Chicago in July.

Josh Berry filled in for Gragson in the FireKeepers 400 at Michigan International Speedway and he was 34th in the 37-car field.


AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

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