ORIGINAL: On Sunday night, NASCAR and iRacing put on a special event for fans that saw a number of real-life drivers take to the virtual track to bring stock cars to Monza, Italy. While the event was supposed to be a fun escape for drivers and fans, it turned out to be anything but thanks to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson.
During the race, which was streamed by dozens of various racers and media outlets, Larson can be heard uttering a racial slur over the iRacing communications within the race. In the video, Larson, thinking no one can hear him, says, “You can’t hear me? Hey (racial slur).”
On Monday morning, NASCAR released a statement saying that Larson, who had been a graduate of NASCAR’s “Drive for Diversity” program, was being investigated.
“NASCAR is aware of insensitive language used by a driver during an iRacing event on Sunday, and is currently gathering more information,” the statement read.
Larson’s racing team, Chip Ganassi Racing, took it a step further as they suspended him without pay.
“We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event,” the team said in a statement. “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.”
After he said the slur, everyone within the race immediately grasped the situation. Though some had a burst of clearly nervous laughter, others quickly made it known that what he said was heard by everyone.
“Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud,” NASCAR Xfinity drive Anthony Alfredo said.
Fellow driver Aron MacEachern added: “Yup, we heard that.”
SGO has reached out to iRacing for an official comment on the matter and to find out whether Larson has ban banned from all future iRacing events. So far, no response has been received.
UPDATE: NASCAR has announced that Larson has been suspended indefinitely, and will be required to attend sensitivity training.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, NASCAR stated that diversity and inclusion are a priority for the sport
“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. 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.”
In addition to the suspension announcement, Larson took to social media to issue an apology for his action.
“Hey, I just want to say I’m sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said and there’s no excuse for that,” he said.
You can see his full apology below:
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) April 13, 2020
*NOTE: The story was updated on Monday, April 13th at 2:30pm with more information.*