Necessary Evil: NASCAR Drivers Know Social Media Is a 'Way Dangerous Place'

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Drivers: Social Media Is 'a Way Dangerous Place'Meg Oliphant - Getty Images
  • Noah Gragson's recent suspension for an inappropriate "like" on social media has put the focus on social platforms and how NASCAR drivers use it.

  • While it's a way to improve one's brand, promote a sponsor or share with fans, it's also a place filed with social landmines.

  • Some drivers, like Joey Logano and his wife Brittany, try to keep electronics out of their children’s hands.

Social media could easily be described as a double-edged sword.

NASCAR Cup Series drivers consider it a necessary evil of their business, one they don’t like, especially for their children.

Five-time Most Popular driver Chase Elliott stepped away from social media toward the end of the 2020 season. William Byron’s crew chief Rudy Fugle says he doesn’t have any type of social media. A few years ago, when Justin Haley was asked about his social media presence, he said he didn’t become a race car driver to become a social media superstar. Today, he still doesn’t deal with social media. Haley has someone handle it for him.


“I’ve got too busy of a life to deal with it,” Haley says.

Daniel Suarez recently was shocked when team owner Justin Marks told him the viewership numbers for the video Trackhouse Racing released to announce Jockey’s continued sponsorship. The 51-second video that shows Suarez and teammate Ross Chastain wearing men’s long leg boxer briefs and white T-shirts received 1.3 million views on Instagram, 33,000 on X (Twitter), 24,800 on TikTok, 15,000 on Facebook and 2,900 on YouTube.

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NASCAR’s most popular driver Chase Elliott says he quit social media in 2020. Meg Oliphant - Getty Images

“It’s crazy what things can happen when you get naked,” Suarez says with a laugh. “So, who knows? We may have to get naked more often.”

Kyle Busch admits without hesitation, “I hate social media.”

“I wouldn’t be on it if I didn’t have to be on it,” Busch says. “That’s just the nature of our business and what we do right now with sponsors and everything else.”

Social media’s pitfalls come to the forefront whenever a driver gets in trouble for a post. Such was the case for Noah Gragson in early August. After liking an insensitive meme with a photo of George Floyd’s face, Gragson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and Legacy Motor Club. Since then, Legacy Motor Club has honored Gragson’s request that he be released from his contract.

“I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media,” Gragson posted immediately after his suspension. “I understand the severity of this situation. I love and appreciate everyone. I try to treat everyone equally no matter who they are. I messed up plain and simple.”

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Suspended Cup Series driver Noah Gragson says he "messed up" on social media.Sean Gardner - Getty Images

Drivers who are parents understand the issues social media can create for their children. That’s why they have strict rules for them. Eight-year-old Brexton Busch may be winning races across the United States, but his mother, Samantha, handles his social media and his father says it will remain that way for a “long, long time.”

“We’re still trying to decide on when he’s old enough to get a cell phone,” Busch says. “I say 16. I see a lot of kids much younger than that getting them, and I don’t see why.”

Kevin Harvick doesn’t allow his 11-year-old son Keelan on social media even though he races in Europe. He and wife Delana also have KHI Management, a celebrity-marketing agency. Harvick says they tell their clients they prefer they never use social media.

“Social media is a necessary evil, unfortunately,” Harvick says. “So, you have to use it, but we would prefer that they don’t use it themselves.”

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Brad Keselowski hasn’t had to have the social media talk with his daughter Scarlett, but he knows it’s probably coming.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

Brad Keselowski’s older daughter, Scarlett, is the same age as Brexton Busch and Keselowski says social media is a long way off for her and her younger sister. Joey Logano possesses the same attitude for his three children. Five-year-old Hudson is Logano’s oldest child.

“I’m not a social media fan,” Logano says. “I really wish it didn’t exist because there’s just so much fake stuff on it. It’s a highlight reel. It’s everybody’s good parts of their life and then you feel like your life’s not good enough and people get depressed. It’s just better off not having it.”

Logano and his wife Brittany try to keep electronics out of their children’s hands.

“They don’t have an iPad or anything,” Logano says. “Honestly, they’re a little behind when it comes to technology compared to other kids and I’m OK with that. I’m trying to keep it that way and keep them outside. At some point, there’ll be good conversations to have, and I’ll have great examples on how everybody is always watching you.”

Keselowski says he and his wife Paige will have “some difficult conversations” with their children when they begin participation on social media.

“It’s a different era to grow up in knowing that whatever you do is permanent, and won’t disappear,” Keselowski says. “You want them to understand that.

“Humans learn from their mistakes. As much as we want them to learn from other people’s mistakes, more often than not, they learn from their own. Social media has made it to where those mistakes don’t ever go away. So, you want them to make good mistakes. A good mistake being defined as a mistake that you learn from and that doesn’t cause permanent damage to you for the rest of your life.”

Michael McDowell says there is a great deal of discussion in their household surrounding speech and actions. They don’t allow their five children to have cell phones, be on social media, YouTube, or anything related to those items.

“I just didn’t want them to be so dependent on it that they lose their childhood of just being outside and doing stuff,” McDowell says.

“I’ve got a 14-year-old son right now that doesn’t have a phone. He is probably the only kid in his school, in his class that doesn’t have it, but he doesn’t seem to mind, and he doesn’t feel like he’s missing anything. Obviously, he’ll need it when he gets his driver’s license.”

While McDowell and his wife point out their mistakes immediately to their children, there are others who know that one day their children will see their less than stellar moments on the Internet, specifically on YouTube, where they remain indefinitely.

“YouTube is a way dangerous place,” Busch says. “There is way too much evidence on that site that I’m not going to be able to control so he’ll (Brexton) see a lot, I’m sure.

“One day, it’d be funny if he’s pulling up videos or seeing videos and then he sends me the link and says, ‘Dad, what the hell were you thinking? What was this all about?’ And I’d be like, ‘All right, so here’s how the whole story goes. Let me tell you.’ That would be pretty good.”