Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: What Agustín Canapino Did Was Way Worse Than Noah Gragson

The fact that neither INDYCAR nor Juncos Hollinger Racing have suspended Agustín Canapino for his actions following the Detroit Grand Prix is ridiculous.

In the NTT IndyCar Series race on the streets of Detroit on Sunday (June 2), there was an incident where rookie driver Théo Pourchaire performed a late divebomb on Canapino and the two made contact. Canapino was understandably angry at Pourchaire for the ultra-aggressive move and slightly repaid the favor two corners later.

“This idiot messed up my entire car,” Canapino said on the team radio when it happened.

“I know, stupid, the son of a b****, a******,” team owner Ricardo Juncos replied. “He jumped from 400 meters. Stupid.”

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Canapino had every right to be mad, and that heat-of-the-moment radio transmission is part of what makes racing entertaining — absolutely nothing wrong there. Heck, had he wrecked Pourchaire or punched him in the mouth following the race, I’d say both were well within his rights.

Instead, Canapino lashed out in a way that was much worse.

Following the incident, Pourchaire received a barrage of death threats from fans. So much so that Pourchaire addressed it in a post on X on Monday (June 3).

“I’m sad I received so much hate and death threats in the last 24 hours for such a small incident in the Detroit GP,” Pourchaire said. “I hope people can understand that we are all humans and we can make mistakes. But it’s not normal to abuse people online. Please be kind to each other.”

His team Arrow McLaren released a joint statement with Juncos Hollinger, who it shared an alliance with, as well.

“Arrow McLaren and @juncoshollinger will not tolerate any form of abuse or discrimination,” the Arrow McLaren post said. “Those participating in such actions are not welcome in our online community.”

Canapino, on the other hand, did nothing on Monday to discourage the hate Pourchaire was receiving. Instead, he liked a bunch of posts that mock Pourchaire, say there are no death threats or suggest it’s just a part of Argentinian culture to say stuff like that (Canapino is Argentinian).

I looked it up and there are definitely death threats. I’m not posting them here, so search @tpourchaire on X (formerly Twitter) if you must see them. Many are in Spanish because I’m assuming they’re from Argentinians, so be ready to use Google Translate.

To be clear, Canapino didn’t like any posts that contained death threats to Pourchaire. He only liked the ones mocking him.

But in doing so, not only did he not discourage people to send threats, he encouraged people to mock him. And the mocking of Pourchaire essentially tells the people that are sending the hateful messages to him that they are doing nothing wrong — keep doing it. So in an indirect way, Canapino is encouraging the threats.

Finally, on Tuesday (June 4), both Canapino and Juncos Hollinger put out statements on the issue.

The JHR statement was good, but Canapino spent more time defending Argentinians than he did he squashing the harsh messages.

“Also, we Argentines are passionate and euphoric, but that doesn’t mean we should be accused of something we are not,” Canapino said. “Therefore, I strongly reject being generalized and placed in a category we don’t deserve.

“I have not seen a single death threat directed at those who claim to have received them. From last year to today, no one in their right mind would do such a thing. It’s outrageous to be accused of this so lightly, and I won’t allow it anymore.”

I get Canapino wanted to speak up for his country and people, but man, there are better ways to go about it than that. The whole thing reads like an “I’m sorry, but …”

The sad part is that Callum Ilott received the same kind of hate from Canapino fans following the races at both Long Beach and Laguna Seca in 2023. No one has learned their lesson even after three times, and Canapino won’t advise his fans to calm down.

Arrow McLaren clearly also wasn’t happy about the reaction from Canapino or Juncos Hollinger. It terminated its alliance with JHR on Thursday (June 6).

See also
Arrow McLaren Terminates Alliance With Juncos Hollinger

Canapino clearly doesn’t see anything wrong with the messages Pourchaire was getting. Those messages may be OK in Argentina, but they are not OK in American motorsports. And as such, he deserves a suspension and should have to do a sensitivity training course. Nothing is going to change without an extreme course of action.

The whole ordeal kind of reminds me of the Noah Gragson situation in NASCAR last year. Gragson liked a meme on Instagram that made light of the George Floyd murder. As a result, he was fired as the driver for Legacy Motor Club and suspended from NASCAR indefinitely (which ended up being the rest of 2023).

Gragson took NASCAR’s sensitivity training and was cleared to race this year, where he may just be the comeback driver of the year. He had a string of controversial incidents prior to the suspension. But since then, Gragson has been a model racecar driver while still maintaining his charm and charisma from before.

What Canapino did this week was worse than Gragson liking that Floyd meme. While the meme was insensitive, it was dark humor and was ultimately harmless. It didn’t spur people to actually go do anything violent.

It’s a huge stretch and highly unlikely, but by Canapino feeding into the situation, some crazy fan could’ve been motivated to actually do something violent. Thank God that has not happened this far, but INDYCAR can’t play around with stuff like this.

Juncos hasn’t and probably won’t do anything to Canapino because he, too, is Argentinian. That means INDYCAR needs to take matters into its own hands. I’m not saying to suspend Canapino indefinitely, but a one-week suspension and some type of sensitivity training/cyber-bullying course might help him see the same progress Gragson has shown this year.

About the author

Michael.massie 113x150

Michael Massie joined Frontstretch in 2017 and has served as the Content Director since 2020. Massie, a Richmond, Va., native, has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, SRX and the CARS Tour. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad and Green Bay Packers minority owner can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies and Packers.

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Ted

When you use your car as a weapon,… be prepared for the consequences. People still die in motorsports,… need to be wary of your competitors safety. A harsh word is generally better than death,.. although these guys are insane for getting behind the wheel anyway. 🤔😬🤷🏼‍♂️

Jim

I don’t know if Michael or someone else at Frontstretch is responsible for this story’s headline and the teaser on the website homepage — but it seems to be both irrelevant and disingenuous. The Noah Gragson incident is not mentioned until the 21st paragraph with a “this kind of reminds me of…” Yes there’s a tenuous connection but the story would be excellent story without any mention of it. I can only speculate that including it, particularly as a headline, is hoping NASCAR fans are more likely to read it.

This is an interesting and very important story — and would be without 21st-23rd paragraphs!

Squiggy Wighinz

The writer of this is apparently a cupcake. Sticks and stones. The internet isn’t real, who cares. Punching someone however is. Grow up.

Ted

Yeah, I’d rather get insulted, then have to deal medical bills,… the cost of physical care is insane compared to mental care. 😬

Don

Spot on with your article, and Canapino is not driving at RA. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.

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