As most NASCAR fans know by now, driver Kyle Larson was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing after he was heard using a racial slur during a virtual "iRacing" event. Suspended indefinitely by NASCAR, he faced considerable criticism. And while there are many people that believe Larson should never be back in the Cup Series, fellow driver Bubba Wallace Jr. feels that this is something that everyone in NASCAR can learn from and use to make a big impact on the sport.
Wallace, the only African-American driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, recently spoke with FOX Sports' Lindsay Czarniak about the incident. He revealed that Larson had texted him immediately after using the word, but Wallace said he didn't call Larson back for about 24 hours. Wallace simply didn't know what to say in the immediate aftermath. When they did ultimately speak the next day, Wallace told Larson that he needed to get that word out of his vocabulary.
"You know, it was a very unfortunate time not only for Larson — I immediately thought of his family, his kids — the race team, the whole sport. It was a major setback for us," Wallace said. "It was really frustrating to kind of hear that and be a part of it indirectly. I don't even know what I was doing. I was playing 'Call of Duty' or something, and I had seen it pop up on social media channels. And I was like, 'oh no.'"
The two drivers discussed why Larson had used that word and how it should not be used in this world. Wallace accepted an apology and felt that it was sincere. He also made it clear that his fellow driver needs to get the slur out of his vocabulary.
Wallace previously responded to this incident with a statement. He explained that Larson's use of the racial slur was completely wrong, but he wasn't mad at him. Wallace felt that his fellow driver deserved a second chance to prove himself. He also said that he is willing to work with Larson to "address diversity and inclusion in our sport."
"It's NOT just a word," Wallace said in a statement on Twitter. There is a ton of negative meaning behind the word. Doesn't matter if a person uses it in an offensive way or not. The word brings many terrible memories for people and families and brings them back to a time that WE as a community and human race have tried our hardest to get away from."
Larson currently remains suspended from NASCAR while he undergoes mandatory sensitivity training. The 2020 season will return on May 17, but he will not be taking part in the upcoming races. Chip Ganassi Racing will instead move ahead with veteran driver Matt Kenseth as Larson's replacement.