Race Weekend Central

Dropping the Hammer: Noah Gragson’s Big Mistake

Noah Gragson made an incredible, potentially career costing mistake.

It was a mistake that was made at some point in the last three months, but was four years in the making.

Here’s what happened.

Three years ago, on May 25, 2020, a Black man named George Floyd was murdered.

He was murdered on the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota, by a white police officer named Derek Chauvin, who for more than nine minutes held his knee in the back of Floyd’s neck.

During the nine minutes before he died, Floyd gasped for air and cried out for his mother.

It was a spark to a tinderbox of a world changing summer that not even NASCAR could avoid.

Less than two weeks later, NASCAR released a video of drivers saying “I will learn and listen.”

That video was largely coordinated by the future co-owner of Legacy Motor Club: Jimmie Johnson.

Flash forward to May 27, 2023.

That’s when an Instagram account called LBuddah_ posted a meme to its Instagram Reels.

The meme?

A video of Floyd’s face pasted on the body of a crab.

The caption read “Under da knee, under da knee,” a mashup of the famous song from The Little Mermaid and the way that Floyd was murdered.

Then, at some unknown point between May 27 and Aug. 4, Gragson saw and watched the meme.

Then he pressed the “heart” icon.

A meme about a man who was murdered.

Then early Friday (Aug. 4) morning, a Twitter account that has now been set to private posted a screenshot that showed the meme. At the bottom of it was an indicator that Gragson had liked the video.

I found out about it later in the day when a fellow Frontstretch reporter shared it in our company Slack.

My instant, emotional reaction was to believe it was real.

But, I had to make sure, because this is the Internet we’re talking about.

When I got the chance last night I immediately sent an email to Legacy Motor Club’s PR representatives.

In that email I made every attempt possible to couch my message and the questions I included in way that allowed for the possibility that the screenshot was a fabrication.

Saturday morning, upon someone else noting that Gragson’s current Instagram profile picture was different from the one visible in the screenshot, I sent a followup message asking when Gragson’s photo had been changed, again trying to allow for the possibility this was a wild goose chase.

I then sent messages similar to my first email to Legacy Motor Club to representatives of Chevrolet and NASCAR.

Then, at 10:27 a.m. CT, Legacy Motor Club confirmed it in a statement sent out via email.

“We have made the decision to suspend Noah Gragson effective immediately regarding his actions that do not represent the values of our team. Josh Berry will drive the No. 42 entry for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan.”

Gragson himself released a statement, attributing it to a “lack of attention” on social media, saying he understood “the severity of this situation” and that he “messed up plain and simple.”

Less than 50 minutes after LMC’s statement, NASCAR took it a step further.

“NASCAR fully supports Legacy Motor Club’s decision to suspend Noah Gragson. Following his actions on social media, NASCAR has determined that Gragson has violated the Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book and has placed him under indefinite suspension.”

Good.

NASCAR had to take this action.

It goes back to June 7, 2020, when President Steve Phelps addressed the sport and the country prior to the Cup Series’ second race in the wake of Floyd’s murder.

“The black community and all people of color have suffered in our country and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change,” Phelps said. “Our sport must do better. Our country must do better. The time is now to listen, to understand and to stand against racism and racial injustice. We ask our drivers, our competitors and all our fans to join us in this mission.”

Gragson was a driver in NASCAR when Phelps delivered that message.

I don’t know what Gragson’s actual reaction was when he liked that meme posted back in May.

He may have just been mindlessly scrolling one day. He maybe saw it, watched it, registered what it was, chuckled or had a hearty laugh, tapped the “heart,” and kept scrolling.

Maybe he had no visible reaction and just tapped it.

But he still tapped it.

George Floyd was a person.

A human.

George Floyd didn’t deserve to die.

He didn’t deserve to have a meme mocking him.

And that meme didn’t deserve Noah Gragson’s passive approval.

2023 is Daniel McFadin’s 10th year covering NASCAR, with six years spent at NBC Sports. This is his third year writing columns for Frontstretch. His columns won third place in the National Motorsports Press Association awards for 2021.

About the author

Daniel McFadin is a 10-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He currently works full time for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is lead reporter and an editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR podcast "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" presented by Democrat-Gazette.

You can email him at danielmcfadin@gmail.com.

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Ted

Not a fan of Gragson beause of his cockiness and his loud mouth, but this just seems like an easy way to get out of fulfilling their contract with him, replace him with Nemecheck next year. Just for liking a meme?… wait until they find out where some of the sponors are from, and what they support? 😬 Maybe this will help his career, like it did Larsons? 🤔🤷🏼‍♂️

Last edited 8 months ago by Ted
Brandon

Insanely huge talent gap between Larson and Gragson. But Larson actually did something that can be construed as wrong

TiminPayson

I’m sure Pockrass will rush to interview Bubba Wallace

TiminPayson

Daniel, thanks for doing little more than showing your liberal, woke bias.

Mugrad

Thank you for showing your maga/qanon bias with your vitriolic comment

Don

Maga/qanon bias? You literally have zero clue about what you speak. You know zero about what Q or MAGA is about, if you did you would not have posted this comment.

You are so conditioned to believe what the teeveee says that you ignore facts. As you are seething, breath in with your teeth clinched so you get that sound that signals everyone around you that you be mad, bro.

Backcountry164

Virtue signaled. 10 points awarded.

Anson

Because of this I will no longer be following any social media or anything else from frontstretch. I just unsubscribed from all accounts.

Bill B

The horror!
The horror!

Don

You are weak,McFadin, and a good example of why journalism is dead. You did nothing but regurgitate a narrative of lies. What’s your take on the Talladega door pull non-event? Wait, don’t bother.

Mugrad

Your hate filled comment is revealing of the kind of person you are. I’d be willing to bet if Gragson had been suspended for supporting a LBGTQ issue, you’d be in full support of his suspension. Like so many of your ilk, you’re being hypocritical

Don

I couldn’t care less about what his employer does to him. Don’t know him, never met him, but what I do care about is the lies in this article.

Again for the cheap seats, McFadin is he worst kind of opinion writer, because he posts a narrative of lies that were debunked a long time ago. He does this to support his opinion because he doesn’t use critical thinking about the issue, he uses emotion.

Cope and seethe.

Mugrad

And you are the worst kind of fan that feeds off of hatred for anything or anyone that doesn’t conform to your myopic point of view.

Don

Again, cope and seethe.

Backcountry164

“hatred for anything or anyone that doesn’t conform to your myopic point of view.”
Speaking from experience obviously…

Echo

How’s trailer life on the coast now don ! Can you breath once again ! George Floyd can’t, but the punk cop using his knee is breathing prison air for the next twenty years. Seems fitting to me.

Don

McFadin, like all of the msm, doesn’t care about the facts because it conflicts with the narrative they are desperately pushing. Look at the Talladega door pull story. NASCAR and Wallace knew that was a door pull, but they ran with the story anyway. #metoo, huh, NASCAR?

Mugrad

Convenient of you to fail to mention that Bubba was not the one who reported the “door pull” clearly fashioned into a noose appearance. I’ve been in a lot of garages in my 67 years and that’s the ONLY garage pull I’ve ever seen fashioned into a noose appearance. Don’t forget to go to sears to get a few extra sheets…
\

Michelle

He went along with it, didn’t he?

Mugrad

You, sir, are a Neanderthal who cares little about anything or anyone who doesn’t agree with your pathetic point of view. Your assumptions are flawed, your delivery is weak and that you believe any of the bilge you spew is telling

Don

My delivery is controlled because the mods on this site are like McFadin. Weak-chinned and emotional.
you want to head on over to Gab, we can be more open with our words and meanings. They don’t censor.

So, about those pics, you gonna show everyone how you believe what the teeeveee told you about Floyd? I’m sure you would score mega points in your lgbtqwsiun+ community.

Backcountry164

Right. He’s just the one who milked it for all it was worth. As if there’s a difference…

sb

Wow. I see bigotry isn’t dead.

Don

Not bigotry, facts. You should try them sometime.

Mugrad

Fact: anything Don agrees with, all else is fake

sb

Interesting that you believe those facts make it OK that he was killed by police without the benefit of a trial.

bj

I would be outraged if that actually happened.

jdquick

Well, well. What a piece of work you really are McFadin. Cruising X and like sites and attempting to be the SJW and virtue signaling idiot that you really are. No wonder the MSM is dying a slow death when “writers” such as yourself stoop to such length to invade others privacy. But then, I guess that is what “writers” are now, just looking for the next person that they can attempt to cancel over a meme that was funny……pathetic.

Mugrad

That you think a meme mocking a guy needlessly killed by a rogue cop is funny speaks volumes about the kind of person you are

Don

Spot on jdquick.

mugrad is a true believer in the virtue signaling narrative that Floyd was just a good boy who was unfairly killed. He, like McFadin won’t acknowledge any of the real facts, just the lies that support their narrative. Mugrad loves seeing Gragson’s career destroyed over this nonsense to validate his opinion, not the facts.

jdquick

Perhaps he thinks Mike Brown was an innocent angel too. Wouldn’t surprise me…..

Don

Exactly.

Mugrad

Personally, mike brown got what he deserved. George Floyd, while not an angel was murdered by a cop for what crime? What capital offense did he commit? When did that rogue cop get the authority to be judge, jury, and executioner all in one?

Don

But, that isn’t what happened. You know this, but are trapped in your narrative now.

Mugrad

I’m glad I’m not a trump humping, cousin kissing, trailer park living, wife beater like you.

Don

LOL, you mad, bro?

Emotion based insults like this cuz your feelings got hurt, are of no bother to me.

You should get back to sitting in front of the teeveee so you know what to believe and say.

Bill B

“You, sir, are a Neanderthal who cares little about anything or anyone who doesn’t agree with your pathetic point of view.”

Seems you are the same, just on the other side.
You can’t see that, can you?

jdquick

100% correct Bill. Hive minds are incapable of thinking rationally and even have to pull crap out of thin air to make their arguments. To them lying has become second nature because that is all the see on the MSM everyday of the week. Its really sad that he has to consult the DNC for his talking points.

denise

Amen to that. You hit the nail on the head.

Capt Spaulding

Oh to go back to the days of real racing and real racing stories and reports. Matt M definitely got out of dodge at the right time…..even his music antidotes would be a welcome relief to these inferior so called writers/ reporters.

Steven

I hope Frontstretch takes a close look at this McFadden jerk and reevaluates his standing with your publication. I am beyond disgusted and I don’t even like the 42 driver.

Spot 01

Wow. I see the facts I posted earlier have been removed. What’s the matter Daniel? Hit a nerve? Can’t handle the truth? George Floyd was a piece of $#!^ and most anybody with some common sense knows this. Anyways, I’m done with this garbage site anymore if this is the way they need to be. Fluck ’em.

Sean

This just drives home the point that people should use a fake account on social media, not one with their name on it.

You have to protect yourself from those out there that would love nothing more than to ruin your life and your career.

Anything to do with official stuff should be handled by a PR firm and you have no access to it at all.

That’s how you avoid the kind of drama perpetrated by this reporter.

On a side note, nearly everyone out there that has been on social media has clicked on “something” in their life that could be considered “questionable” by the person checking on them, deeming it worthy of emailing their boss and everyone else that matters in an effort to get them fired. Even this reporter.

Who knows? Maybe this reporter will be the subject of an article about how someone discovered he liked something and then had the hammer dropped on him.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sean
Backcountry164

Won’t happen. The guy who wrote this is the definition of a nobody. Who would care??

Jeremy

Well, He’s received more comments (and possibly more views) on this piece than any other on here this week, so I bet he’s got a corner office promotion and a big pay raise by now!

kb

Correct. Spiteful and nasty pieces of work always seem to fail up!

kb

Little Danny Mc. seems to be a little mean girl tattletale. Why did he feel that spiteful bratty action was necessary? Well from the looks of him, he just might like Bud Lite. IMO. Hey Frontstretch, is Danny cancelled for “liking” a derogatory tweet regarding the great fans of auto racing? The hypocrisy is astounding, and the lack of self-awareness is staggering. IMO.

Last edited 8 months ago by kb
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