NASCAR's Kyle Larson Suspended Indefinitely for Using N-Word During Esports Race

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2020

Kyle Larson gets ready to climb into his car to practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Terry Renna/Associated Press

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson has been suspended without pay after he used a racial slur during an iRacing game that was broadcast Sunday.

"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 NASCAR statement read. "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."

According to videos that made the rounds on social media, Larson thought he lost communication on his headset and was trying to get the attention of someone in the chat.  

"You can't hear me? Hey, n----r," Larson said, per Scott Gleeson of USA Today.

Larson's quote was broadcast to the audience and other drivers, who responded to tell the Chip Ganassi Racing racer that they heard him.

"We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event," Chip Ganassi Racing said in a statement, per ESPN. "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."

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After the suspension, Larson posted a video on his Twitter account apologizing for his language, noting it was "an awful thing to say":

The race was being broadcast on Twitch and eNASCAR.com, though it is not officially affiliated with NASCAR. Larson also did not issue a comment on his use of the epithet on the stream or after the race.

The 27-year-old, who is half-Japanese, began his rise through NASCAR's circuits as part of the sport's Drive for Diversity program. He has been part of the Cup series since 2013, winning six races and finishing a career-best sixth in the points standings last year.

Fellow NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace lost a sponsorship when he "rage-quit" during an iRacing event last week.