NASCAR star Kyle Larson was suspended without pay by Chip Ganassi Racing on Monday for using a racial slur on a live stream during a virtual race.
Larson was competing in an iRacing event Sunday night when he appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter. During a check of his microphone, he said, “You can’t hear me?” That was followed by the racial slur.
“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. “As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.”
Larson is half Japanese — his grandparents spent time in an interment camp in California during World War II — and he climbed from short-track racing into NASCAR through its “Drive for Diversity” program. He is the only driver of Japanese descent to win a major NASCAR race.
“NASCAR is aware of insensitive language used by a driver during an iRacing event on Sunday, and is currently gathering more information,” NASCAR said.
NASCAR in 2013 suspended Xfinity Series driver Jeremy Clements for using the same word Larson used while Clements was speaking to a reporter. Clements was re-instated after completing a sensitivity training course and still competes.
Larson is the second driver in a week to draw scrutiny while using the online racing platform to fill time during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bubba Wallace one week earlier “rage quit” an official NASCAR iRacing event televised live nationally and his sponsor fired him immediately.