NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was suspended without pay by Chip Ganassi Racing on Monday after footage surfaced of him using a racial slur during a virtual race. The racing team said that they would be working through the situation with all the appropriate parties. Tuesday morning, Ganassi Racing announced that they have fired Larson.
"After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson," the team said in a statement. "As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take." As of Tuesday morning, Ganassi Racing has not named a replacement driver.
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.
In addition to being fired by his racing team, Larson also lost his relationship with Chevrolet. The auto manufacturer made the announcement on Tuesday and said, "As previously stated, Chevrolet does not tolerate the inappropriate behavior exhibited by Kyle Larson. As a result, Chevrolet is immediately terminating its relationship with Mr. Larson."
Larson posted a video on his Twitter account Monday morning and apologized for his use of the racial slur. He said that there "was no excuse" and that he "wasn't raised that way." Larson apologized to his family, friends, partners, NASCAR and the black community.
Larson has been with Chip Ganassi Racing throughout his Cup Series career. He originally drove for Turner Scott Motorsports in the 2013 Xfinity Series, which had ties to Ganassi Racing. He continued racing in the Xfinity Series in 2014 while also making his Cup Series debut for Ganassi Racing.
Larson found success during his first season in the Cup Series He had eight top-five finishes during the season and was named the 2014 Cup Rookie of the Year. Larson has since won six Cup points races and the 2019 All-Star Race. He also made the playoffs in each of the past four seasons.0comments
Larson was in the last year of his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing and was set to be a free agent ahead of the 2021 season. The 27-year-old driver had previously expressed loyalty for Ganassi Racing in light of him still being allowed to participate in the Xfinity Series. There were many racing teams expected to be in search of his services, but the use of the racial slur likely changed that situation.
In addition to being fired by Ganassi Racing, Larson was also suspended indefinitely by NASCAR. Larson will now be required to take sensitivity training as part of his suspension. He also lost McDonald's, Credit One Bank and Clover as his top sponsors.