Nationwide Series driver Nelson Piquet Jr. has been fined $10,000 and placed on indefinite probation, and he will have to attend sensitivity training after using a gay slur on social media.
In the announcement, NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations, Steve O’Donnell, explained the governing body's decision:
Nelson Piquet Jr. recently communicated an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport. NASCAR’s Code of Conduct explicitly spells out in the 2013 rule book our position regarding the use of disparaging terms. We expect our entire industry to abide by this Code.
Piquet, who drives the No. 30 car for Turner Scott Motorsports, also released a statement to apologize for his choice of words:
I sincerely apologize to everyone for my poor choice of words last week. I did not mean to hurt or offend anyone. This has been a cultural learning experience that will make me a more sensitive person moving forward.
The message has since been removed, but Bob Pockrass of Sporting News reports the remark that landed Piquet in hot water was directed toward another driver.
While commenting on a photo that Nationwide Series driver Parker Kligerman posted of himself, Piquet used a three-letter slur as a one-word description of Kligerman. The word is offensive to a homosexual.
Now that punishment has been handed down by NASCAR, Piquet should finally be able to move past the incident. It was a learning experience not only for the 28-year-old Brazilian, but also for fellow drivers and athletes across the sports spectrum.
Even if Piquet posted the comment in a joking manner, which he previously said was the case, that's not enough for him to avoid scrutiny. Any message on social media can be viewed by fans around the world and send the wrong message.
Based on his comments, the former Formula 1 driver seems to understand the mistake, and the hard-line punishment reinforces NASCAR's stance on such issues. Those types of slurs won't be overlooked, and penalties will follow if they are used.
Piquet had been enjoying a solid season on the Nationwide Series. He sits 12th in the standings with five races left in the season.
Unfortunately, his four top-10 finishes are now being overshadowed by his off-track actions.