NASCAR driver Kyle Larson suspended indefinitely and the sport and will require him to attend sensitivity training, the sanctioning body announced Monday. (Chip Ganassi Racing ended their relationship with Larson on Tuesday.)
NASCAR stated: “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.”
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Earlier Monday, Chip Ganassi Racing announced that it suspended Larson without pay, stating: “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. As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.”
Chevrolet, the manufacturer for Chip Ganassi Racing, stated Monday: “Chevrolet has suspended its relationship with Kyle Larson indefinitely, as we do not tolerate this behavior. We will continue to monitor the events surrounding Mr. Larson and are prepared to take additional action.”
Larson was participating in the Monza Madness iRacing exhibition race Sunday night. Video from another competitor’s twitch stream caught the slur from Larson across the audio channel where drivers can talk to all competitors. When a driver speaks on that channel, their name appears on each driver’s screen.
In the video, Larson, who has Japanese-American heritage, said: “You can’t hear me? Hey (racial slur).”
Xfinity driver Anthony Alfredo then said: “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.”
Aron MacEachern said: “Yep, we heard that.”
IndyCar driver Conor Daly said: “Yikes.”
NASCAR’s Code of Conduct (Section 12.8.a) states that:
“NASCAR membership is a privilege. With that privilege comes certain benefits, responsibilities and obligations. Correct and proper conduct, both on and off the race track, is part of a Member’s responsibilities. A Member’s actions can reflect upon the sport as a whole and on other NASCAR Members. Ideally, NASCAR Members are role models for the many fans who follow this sport, regardless of the type of license a Member may hold, or the specific Series in which a Member may participate. Therefore, NASCAR views a Member’s conduct, both on and off the race track, which might constitute a behavioral Rules violation under this Rule Book with great importance.”
The Cup Rule Book states in Section 12.8.1.e that a member’s action that could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension, or termination:
“Public statement and/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.”
The Cup Rule Book states in Section 12.8.1.f factors that NASCAR may consider when reviewing a matter might include:
- When and where the incident(s) occurred.
- The perceivable or potential ramifications to others and/or to the sport.
- Available empirical data.
- Member’s past history.
- Possible effects to fans, safety workers, crew members.
- Any extenuating circumstances.
- Was the explanation(s) plausible given the circumstances.
- Was there an indication of genuine remorse or attempts to work things out with the other party(s) in a civil manner, and so on.
Larson is in the last year of his contract at Chip Ganassi Racing and was expected to be among the top free agents available.
Credit One Bank, a sponsor of Larson’s No. 42 team at Chip Ganassi Racing said in a statement that it “denounces the highly offensive language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event.”
Also Monday, iRacing announced that it has suspended Larson indefinitely, stating: “Kyle Larson’s language last night during a streamed online race was both offensive and inappropriate, and in violation of our sporting code. As such, Kyle Larson has been suspended indefinitely from the iRacing service.”