Team owner Chip Ganassi has suspended driver Kyle Larson without pay, and NASCAR has suspended the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet indefinitely for using a racial slur during an iRacing event at virtual Monza on Sunday.
“We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle Larson said last night during an iRacing event,” Chip Ganassi Racing said in a statement issued Monday. “The words that he chose to use are offensive and unacceptable. As of this moment, we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.”
NASCAR also issued a statement on Monday announcing its suspension of Larson, who will be required to undergo sensitivity training before he can be reinstated.
“NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event,” the statement said. “Our Member Conduct Guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will enforce these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for our entire industry and fan base.”
The reigning champion of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals and a six-time winner for CGR in the NASCAR Cup Series, Larson first asked if anyone could hear him on a channel carried by the live streaming Twitch service, which allows fans to listen to conversations between drivers and for drivers to communicate with each other.
Larson then said the N-word, and one driver soon cautioned him by saying, “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.”
In the final season of an eight-year deal with Ganassi, Larson, 27, has been sponsored by McDonald’s and Credit One Bank in the first four official races of the 2020 season, which has been halted during the coronavirus pandemic. Both sponsors subsequently cut ties with the driver.
McDonald's USA released the following statement:
“We were extremely disappointed and appalled to hear about this incident. The comments made by Kyle Larson are insensitive, offensive and not reflective of our inclusive values and will not be tolerated. McDonald’s is taking immediate action to terminate the relationship with Larson.”
Via Twitter, @CreditOneBank posted;
“As stated earlier, Credit One Bank denounces the highly offensive language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event. In addition to the quick actions taken by NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing, Credit One Bank is terminating its sponsorship of Kyle Larson.”
Larson, who competed with Chevrolet since rising through the NASCAR ranks in 2012, also campaigns with the bow-tie brand in World of Outlaws with driver Carson Macedo. However, that partnership appears to be in jeopardy as well.
“Chevrolet has suspended its relationship with Kyle Larson indefinitely, as we do not tolerate this behavior,” said a Chevrolet spokesperson. “We will continue to monitor the events surrounding Mr. Larson and are prepared to take additional action.”
Larson widely has been considered the top free agent among drivers who are in the final years of their current contracts.
Of Asian descent, Larson was a participant in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. He is competing in his seventh full season at NASCAR’s top level.
The virtual race at Monza, which featured drivers from various series competing on the F1 course, was not a NASCAR event.