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- Kyle Larson has been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR after a Twitch stream broadcast him using the N-word during a recreational virtual race on Sunday night. Larson has also been suspended without pay by his team, Chip Ganassi Racing.
- “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,” a spokesperson for NASCAR told Business Insider.
- Larson appeared unaware that his communication was going to all drivers in the race session, with another driver responding: “Hey Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.”
- Participation in the iRacing event was on a voluntary basis, with Larson saying on Saturday that he “might try and get on” if he wasn’t busy with his family.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
After a Twitch livestream caught NASCAR driver Kyle Larson using the N-word during a virtual race Sunday night, NASCAR suspended him indefinitely on Monday. Right before the official NASCAR suspension, Larson’s race team suspended him without pay.
NASCAR issued a penalty report for Larson on Monday morning, which listed his offense as “behavioral” and said Larson must attend sensitivity training “as directed by NASCAR.”
“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,” a spokesperson for NASCAR 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.”
Business Insider has asked NASCAR how the suspension will be handled, given the fact that sporting events are currently on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve also asked whether the suspension will carry into the race season once it resumes, or whether Larson could potentially be cleared before then. NASCAR did not immediately respond.
In addition to the suspension from NASCAR, Larson was suspended from his race team, Chip Ganassi Racing, as of Monday morning.
“We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing event,” Chip Ganassi Racing 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.”
Larson, a driver in the top-level Cup Series who participated in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, used the slur over the radio during a race called “Monza Madness” on the iRacing virtual simulator over the weekend.
Larson appeared unaware that this radio message was being broadcast to all drivers in the race session, as well as to those viewing the Twitch broadcast.
“You can’t hear me?” Larson said during the livestream. “Hey, n—–.”
“Hey Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud,” fellow NASCAR driver Anthony Alfredo responded, amid the yells of “Yikes,” “Oh my gosh,” and “No way did that just happen” on IndyCar driver Conor Daly’s Twitch stream.
The virtual exhibition race was at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy, featuring big-name drivers from various disciplines and streaming live on Twitch and eNASCAR.com. It was meant to be a fun outing for drivers and viewers while in-person motorsports are on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, as racing stars have flocked to simulators for league events during the holding pattern.
Participation in the event was voluntary and on a for-fun basis, with Larson tweeting its main promotor, fellow driver Landon Cassill, on Saturday to say: “I don’t really ever remember confirming but if I’m not busy with the family I might try and get on.”
Larson’s slur was caught on Daly’s stream at around 1:15:40 into the broadcast. Clips of the slur went around on social media, and Business Insider confirmed its occurrence from the original source material. In the 30-lap race, Larson was listed as finishing 60th of 62 drivers, 24 laps down.
Larson addressed the incident after both suspensions became official, tweeting a video statement on Monday afternoon.
“Hey, I just wanted to stay I’m sorry,” Larson said. “Last night, I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said, and there’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. It’s just an awful thing to say, and I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community, and especially the African-American community.
“I understand the damage is probably unrepairable, and I own up to that, but I just want to let you all know how sorry I am, and I hope everyone is staying safe during these crazy times. Thank you.”
On Monday morning, before the official suspension, NASCAR told Business Insider that it was “aware of insensitive language used by a driver during an iRacing event on Sunday, and is currently gathering more information.”
Larson’s official infraction was listed under Section 12.8.1 in the NASCAR rule book, which, among other things, lists a public statement or communication that “criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition” as an action that “could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension, or termination.”
This story has been updated with a statement from Kyle Larson.
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