Noah Gragson in 2022. Noah Gragson, driver of the NASCAR Xfinity Series No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, speaks to the media during the NASCAR media day at Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, ahead of the championship weekend races at Phoenix International Raceway. (Alex Gould/The Arizona Republic, via USA Today Sports.)

Liking and posting controversial memes on social media platforms has caused problems for many athletes and broadcasters in the past. The latest there is NASCAR driver Noah Gragson. Gragson normally drives full-time in the Cup Series for Legacy Motors, but that team suspended him Saturday for his actions on social media. And Gragson offered an apology next to that statement:

NASCAR weighed in with a statement in support of Legacy’s actions, and with their own ruling that they have now placed Gragson on indefinite suspension:

What were those “actions on social media” that led to this? As per Daniel McFadin of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and racing site Frontstretch, the big thing in question here appears to be a screenshot suggesting Gragson liked a meme on Instagram that referenced the 2020 police killing of George Floyd:

There’s a long history of racial issues in NASCAR, and of the governing body’s attempts to address them. Wendell Scott broke the NASCAR color barrier in the 1950s, but faced significant discrimination during his career. More recently, NASCAR banned Confederate flag displays from its tracks in 2020 following the killing of Floyd.

But there have still been controversies around race, and those have sometimes involved drivers. In particular, Kyle Larson was suspended indefinitely (first by his team, Chip Ganassi Racing, and then by NASCAR) in 2020 for using the n-word on a stream of a virtual race. Larson was fired by that team shortly afterwards, then underwent sensitivity training. He signed a deal with Hendrick Motorsports in October 2020, and returned to the Cup Series the following year, winning the championship that year.

This is Gragson’s first year as a full-time Cup Series driver. He previously drove in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports from 2019-22, and in the Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports from 2017-18.

[Noah Gragson on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.