Monday morning, both NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing announced that driver Kyle Larson would be suspended indefinitely without pay after he used a racial slur during a virtual race on Sunday. Larson did not immediately release a statement following the race, but he posted an apology video on Twitter Monday morning.
"I just want to say I'm sorry. Last night, I made a mistake and said the word that should never ever be said," Larson 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."
The incident occurred during an "iRacing" event that was not part of the Pro Invitational Series. Larson appeared to lose contact with his spotter. "You can't hear me?" he asked before using the N-word. The other drivers immediately reacted, with some informing Larson that they had heard his comment. Another simply said, "Yikes." An unidentified voice could also be heard telling the other drivers, "don't say anything."
"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," Chip Ganassi Racing said in a statement Monday morning. "As of this moment, we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties."
The impending free agent in Larson was expected to be a top option for multiple racing teams following the 2020 season. His future is now in question considering the suspensions that he received. The NASCAR rules state that a driver can be suspended indefinitely or terminated for making disparaging comments about "race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, or handicapping condition."0comments
NASCAR announced that along with being suspended indefinitely, Larson will be required to take sensitivity training. Xfinity Series driver Jeremy Clements was similarly required to take the same training in 2013. He had used the same slur during an unrecorded conversation with an MTV reporter.
Following his comment during the livestream on Sunday night, an old video surfaced on social media that involved Larson and his fellow drivers. There was a 2016 campaign calling for drivers and fans alike to take the RISE Pledge and fight against discrimination. Larson was one of those featured in the video, along with Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, and Aric Almirola.