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What’s Next For Noah Gragson?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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Noah Gragson has now officially requested to be released from Legacy Motor Club per a press release by the team. This comes after Noah Gragson was indefinitely suspended after the team found that he “liked” an insensitive Instagram post. Now we know what it means for Gragson in the short-term for his career, but what does it mean long-term?

Gragson mentioned in his statement that he will go through the process for reinstatement into NASCAR, and that he is looking forward to a second chance at racing. In order to get that second chance, a long road awaits Gragson – but what does he have to do?

What Does Gragson Have to Do for Reinstatement?

NASCAR does not release its rule book to the public, so, there are not really any details about the specific requirements for reinstatement publicly available. What we can do is look at how long it has taken for drivers to be reinstated into NASCAR following these long suspensions.

The most comparable incident to Gragson is Kyle Larson. What Larson went through for reinstatement could be a good framework for the types of things that Gragson may have to do.

In April of 2020, Larson was indefinitely suspended for his use of a racial slur during an iRacing event. He applied for reinstatement on October 16, 2020, and he was reinstated three days later on October 19, although the reinstatement did not take effect until January 1, 2021.

Larson also went into detail about the types of things that he did while working to get reinstated. He did some volunteer work while he was working through his reinstatement process.

This included working with the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is an organization that tries to help expose students of color to opportunities in the auto racing industry. He also paid a visit to Minneapolis, Minnesota in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Larson also volunteered in Minneapolis as well.

Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports did report that, as a part of the reinstatement, Larson needed to, “continue speaking engagements and education sessions through NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE).” That is about the only thing publicly known about reinstatement requirements.

This is definitely about more than just Gragson completing a couple of classes before getting himself back into a race car. It’s about him regaining the trust of the community that he hurt. That’s what he has to do before NASCAR can consider reinstating him.

How Can Gragson Go Back Racing?

Just because Gragson is suspended from NASCAR does not mean he has to totally stop racing. Larson, for example, raced sprint cars across the country while he was suspended from NASCAR. If these non-NASCAR sanctioned series would welcome Gragson back, there is no reason that he can’t do some sort of racing while working towards reinstatement. It would probably be a wise thing to do at some point just to keep his skills sharp.

He also has access to tools like iRacing that he can use in his free time as well. That can help him work on some things as well, but, it’s obviously not the same type of competition as real-life racing.

It very likely will not be until next year that Gragson can race in NASCAR once again. Will there be a team that is willing to take him in? It’s worth noting that Larson’s car is entirely funded by HendrickCars.com, which is the website for Rick Hendrick’s auto dealerships.

Will Gragson be able to retain more sponsorship than Larson? That is what may determine Gragson’s future. With that being said, he has proven that there is talent there. When in top equipment in the Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports, he was winning races.

Based on the previous reinstatement timeline, it will likely not be until next season that Gragson races in NASCAR again in some capacity. That may not be with a Cup team though. It could, and very likely would, be in the lower series such as Trucks or Xfinity.

Before Gragson can do that, though, he has to do a major thing. Mend the fences with the community he let down. That path is there, but it will take time.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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