Suspended Noah Gragson asks for release from contract with Legacy Motor Club

FILE - Noah Gragson, right, talks to Corey LaJoie after a practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Gragson has been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and Legacy Motor Club due to undisclosed activity on social media. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File) (Chris O'Meara, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

INDIANAPOLIS – Suspended NASCAR driver Noah Gragson has asked Legacy Motor Club to release him from his contract so he can begin working toward reinstatement.

The 25-year-old rookie was suspended indefinitely by Cup officials last 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.

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Series officials said Gragson violated the member conduct of its rule book without providing details.

“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,” Gragson said in a statement in which he sought the release.

Legacy already had announced two-time Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller would replace Gragson in the No. 42 car for Saturday's race at Indianapolis and next weekend's race at Watkins Glen.

“Noah has a ton of talent and has a great personality,” team CEO Cal Wells said. “This is a difficult situation, but we are proud that Noah has taken ownership of his actions and are confident he will work through this process with NASCAR and come back stronger.”

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

He's yet another road racing veteran on a growing list for this weekend's Brickyard race on Indianapolis' road course. Others include Button, Brodie Kostecki, Andy Lally and Shane van Gisbergen, winner of NASCAR’s inaugural street course race in downtown Chicago in July.

Josh Berry replaced Gragson last week at Michigan and finished 34th in the 37-car field.


AP auto racing:

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