NASCAR driver Kyle Larson suspended for using N-word during virtual race
Kyle Larson in October 2019.(Colin E. Braley/AP)
NASCAR driver Kyle Larson has been suspended without pay indefinitely a day after he said the N-word while taking part in a virtual race.
The 27-year-old driver uttered the racial slur on Sunday after he apparently lost audio contact with his spotter during an iRacing event.
“You can’t hear me?” Larson said into his headset.
Larson then used the slur.
The suspension was announced Monday morning by Chip Ganassi Racing, the team that Larson drives for.
“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. "As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.”
Larson, who is half Japanese, has not commented on the incident himself.
His use of the slur surprised other participants in the online race, which was being live-streamed.
Moments after Larson said it, another driver replied, “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone bud.”
Sunday’s online race was not an official NASCAR event.
“NASCAR is aware of insensitive language used by a driver during an iRacing event on Sunday, and is currently gathering more information,” NASCAR said in a statement.
In 2013, the racing league suspended driver Jeremy Clements of the Xfinity Series for saying the N-word while speaking with a reporter. Clements took part a sensitivity training program before being re-instated.
Larson finished sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings in 2019 and has won six races in his career. He is the only current NASCAR racer of Japanese descent.
Sunday’s virtual race served as a form of entertainment amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused the cancellation of numerous events as people practice social distancing and isolate at home.
Larson’s sponsors include Credit One Bank and McDonalds.