Team/NASCAR suspends NASCAR driver for comments made during a sim race

Kyle Larson suspended without pay

1y ago


Chip Ganassi Racing has suspended NASCAR driver Kyle Larson after he was heard using a racial slur during a livestream of an online race he was competing in on Sunday night.

Larson has joined drivers from NASCAR and other racing disciplines including sim racers for an unofficial iRacing event organized by Landon Cassill on a virtual version of the historic oval track in Monza, Italy, which hasn’t been used for real racing in decades.

A pop-up on the screen indicated that Larson was the one speaking when someone could be heard saying “you can’t hear me? Hey, n----r.”

NASCAR XFinity Series driver Anthony Alfredo responded, “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.”

Competitor Aron MacEchern added, “Yep, we heard that.”

It wasn’t clear who Larson was directing the comment to.

The incident comes one week after NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace “rage quit” in the middle of the series’ televised iRacing event at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway following a crash with Clint Bowyer. His sim-racing sponsor, Blue-Emu, quickly announced on Twitter it would no longer sponsor Wallace.

Larson is the son of a Japanese-American mother, whose parents were held in an internment camp in California during World War II. The Ganassi Racing driver is a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which aims to support the careers of up and coming minority and female drivers, and in 2016 became the first person of Japanese descent to win a NASCAR Cup race.

NASCAR issued a statement Monday morning that said: "NASCAR is aware of insensitive language used by a driver during an iRacing event on Sunday and is currently gathering more information.”

Shortly after the Chip Ganassi team issued its own statement: "We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event. The words that he chose to use are offensive and unacceptable. As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay."

NASCAR followed up with an indefinite suspension issuing a behavioral level for an infraction under “Sections 12.1 General Procedures; 12.8.1 Member Conduct Guidelines” and adding that “Kyle Larson has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and must attend sensitivity training as directed by NASCAR.” They delivered the penalty report with a statement:

“NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event. Our Member Conduct Guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will enforce these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for our entire industry and fan base.”

The iRacing platform also suspended Larson:

In 2013, Xfinity series driver Jeremy Clements was initially suspended indefinitely — a suspension that lasted two races — after using the same racial slur in a casual conversation with a reporter from MTV and a NASCAR official

The reporter, Marty Beckerman, said at the time that Clements used the word, though it wasn’t in reference to another driver. NASCAR suspended him for violating its Code of Conduct, which says “NASCAR Members shall not make or cause to be made a public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, are, or handicapping condition.”

The rule goes on to say that such remarks “could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension, or termination.”

Larson was seventh in the NASCAR Cup standings before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. He is among several drivers who have been taking part in various events being organized on the iRacing simulation racing platform, including the official eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

Larson later apologized on Twitter: “I want to say I’m sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever, be said. There’s no excuse for that; I wasn’t raised that way. It’s just an awful thing to say. I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community, and especially the African-American community. I understand the damage is probably unrepairable, and I own up to that. I want to let you all know how sorry I am. Finally, I just want to say that I hope everyone is staying safe during these crazy times. Thank you.”

Before the day was over, Credit One, McDonalds and Chevrolet had all dropped their sponsorship of Larson.

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Comments (19)

  • Yep ... moronic behavior ... and no excuse for it. Throw the book at him. These guys receive copious amounts of training and education on how to act professionally. They’re making piles of cash for a dream job.

    When it comes to racial slurs, There is a strange double standard in American sports. It is absolutely common for black athletes in the NFL and NBA to call each other “nigga” as some odd term of endearment. To some degree, right or wrong, I attribute it to the hip hop culture. For the life of me, I can’t reconcile how this double standard is ok and overlooked by sanctioning bodies.

    I was born and raised in the “Land of Lincoln” ... Our lexicon did not include racial slurs. In my towns history, there was a slave train running under the river, that delivered slaves to freedom. I mean ... we were very well informed as kids. Additionally, I owned a blues club for 12 years and the vast majority of the artists I hired were black. I never once heard, even one of these humble, ex share cropper, sublimely talented, gentlemen artists, refer to each other as “nigga”

    These days ... for reasons beyond my comprehension, it’s ok in black society. It’s totally baffling to me, given the ongoing racial tension in this country, created by our checkered past. There are very powerful organizations like the NAACP who lobby for the advancement of the African American community. Corporations hiring practices include mandates on minority employment. So why is it ok for the African American community to consistently break their own laws. Baffling ... I’ll never understand it.

      1 year ago
  • And "another young pro athlete" throws away a promising career and huge earning potential just because he never grew up past the age of 14.

      1 year ago
    • And he apologized and owned up to his mistake

        1 year ago
    • He did ... but the damage was done. His sponsors dropped him immediately and Ganassi fired him shortly there after. It’ll be a long road back ... but somebody will hire him after the dust has settled.

        1 year ago
  • “Kyle you’re talking to everyone bud”


      1 year ago
  • Good lord, is there a stupidity virus that is also loose?

      1 year ago
  • Granted, Larson f*ck*d up, no question. The opportunities this gentleman has lost are tremendous, simply because he could not curb speaking probably the most controversial word from his, and I'm assuming he is, caucasian mouth. Were there any African American drivers in attendence?

    Since this word is so accepted in the African American community, if Larson was an African American himself would this have been brushed off as a "b*tch ni**er type of comment commonly found in lyrics and spoken among "brothers"?

    This has always been a questionable topic on what's right and what's not...

      1 year ago