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NASCAR's Kyle Larson Suspended After Using Racial Slur

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NASCAR's Kyle Larson suspended after using racial slur during online sim race

Fox News Flash top headlines for April 13

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NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was apparently caught using a racial slur during a livestream of an online car race he was competing in on Sunday night.

 

Larson drives the #42 car for Chip Ganassi racing in the NASCAR Cup series.

Larson drives the #42 car for Chip Ganassi racing in the NASCAR Cup series. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Larson had joined several NASCAR stars and other simulation racers in an unofficial iRacing event organized by Landon Cassill on a virtual version of the historic oval track in Monza, Italy, which hasn’t been used for real racing in decades.

A pop-up on the screen indicated that Larson was the one speaking when someone could be heard saying “you can’t hear me? Hey, n----r.”

 

Well, @KyleLarsonRacin apparently dropping an n-bomb could be the biggest story in sports this weekend.

 
Embedded video

NASCAR XFinity Series driver Anthony Alfredo responded, “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.”

Competitor Aron MacEchern added, “Yep, we heard that.”

It’s not clear to whom Larson was directing the comment.

 

Larson took part in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series on Bristol Motor Speedway on April. 5.

Larson took part in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series on Bristol Motor Speedway on April. 5. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images))

Larson is the son of a Japanese-American mother, whose parents were held in an internment camp in California during World War II. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which aims to support the careers of up and coming minority and female drivers, and in 2016 became the first person of Japanese descent to win a NASCAR Cup race.

Chip Ganassi Racing said Monday morning that it was suspending Larson until further notice.

"We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event. The words 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 saying earlier in the day that it was investigating Larson's comments, NASCAR followed Chip Ganassi Racing's decision in announcing it was suspending Larson from the series indefinitely.

“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,” NASCAR said in a press release “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."

Larson's sponsors Credit One and McDonald’s have not yet commented on the incident.

Following the suspension announcements, Larson tweeted a video apologizing for the slur.

"Hey, I just wanna say I'm sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that never, ever should be said, and there's no excuse for that. I wasn't raised that way, you know, it's just an awful thing to say," Larson said.

"I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community and especially the African American community. You know, I understand the damage is probably unrepairable and I own up to that."

iRacing also suspended Larson from its racing platform, citing its policies on offensive behavior and language.

Larson was seventh in the NASCAR Cup standings before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is among many drivers who have been taking part in various events being organized on the iRacing simulation racing platform, including the official eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

During the April 5 Invitational Series race on Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR Cup driver Bubba Wallace “rage quit” after several accidents, saying on the live chat “that’s why I don’t take this s--t seriously,” and was later dropped by sponsor Blue-Emu.

This is a developing story, check back for updates

The Associated Press contributed to this report                                                                                                                                                                                                     SEE VIDEO REPORT     ;     https://www.foxnews.com/auto/nascar-kyle-larson-racial-slur-online-sim-race

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Chip Ganassi Racing had no choice but to move on from Kyle Larson and look to the future

 

Chip Ganassi faced a decision Monday morning on whether he should fire Kyle Larson for using a racial slur Sunday night on what Larson thought was a chat on a private iRacing channel.

The decision was made for Ganassi by late Monday afternoon.

Once Credit One Bank and McDonald’s announced they were terminating any relationship with Kyle Larson, Ganassi saw all but a few races of sponsorship gone for the rest of the season for the No. 42 car if Larson remained the driver.

Ganassi had to try to save the sponsorships, and the only way to do that was to release Larson.

 

Statement regarding Kyle Larson:

View image on Twitter

It still was an emotional decision for Ganassi, who in 2012 took a chance and signed Larson, then a 19-year-old considered a great young racing talent but with little stock car experience.

“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson,” the team said in a statement. “As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization.

“As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take.”

Larson said the slur when trying to see if his crew chief or spotter could hear him on his iRacing channel during a non-NASCAR virtual race Sunday. His comments instead aired over the driver chat, which other drivers were streaming live.

“You can’t hear me?” Kyle Larson said before a pause and saying “Hey, [racial slur].”

The 27-year-old Asian American, who was part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program as he transitioned from primarily racing sprint cars to NASCAR, probably knew the chances of keeping his ride were slim Monday.

“I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said,” Larson said Monday. “And there’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. It’s just an awful thing to say.

“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.”

The wins (six) and top-10 finishes (101 in 223 starts, 45 percent) nor a big fan base (431,000 Twitter followers, 208,000 Instagram followers) were not going to be enough for sponsors to take a wait-and-see approach.

Maybe if the economic times were better, the sponsors might have had more willingness to take time to gauge the impact on their businesses rather than make a quick decision. But that’s a big ‘if.’ Major companies that rely on positive public perception can’t be perceived as endorsing someone who used the slur and the longer they waited to take action, the more the companies would be scrutinized.

Even if the sponsors had not made the decision quickly, Ganassi might have seen a benefit in just parting ways with Larson. With Larson’s contract scheduled to end after the 2020 season, Ganassi faced a situation where the team could have spent significant time and effort (and possibly risk its reputation) in trying to keep a driver — a driver who has finished between sixth and ninth in the regular-season standings in each of the last five years — only to see him leave for another team in 2021.

In essence, Ganassi could have done all the work to help Kyle Larson rebuild his reputation and then have another team enjoy the results of the efforts for many more years.

So what now? Those sponsors appear to be willing to remain at CGR with another driver. If CGR hires a driver at a lower salary than Larson, CGR conceivably could accept less money in sponsorship fees – a way to mitigate the damage done by the Larson slur as well as help the companies in this economic climate — if it could still fund the building of the cars at a level to perform well.

It would appear that Ross Chastain, who still has a contract with Chip Ganassi Racing, is a solid candidate to fill that seat. He won a race in an Xfinity Series car with Ganassi in 2018. He drove for the team in the Daytona 500 and had at least another race on his schedule.

 

If CGR opts to make permanent change, should be noted that Ross Chastain has run every Cup race this year so he is eligible to run for the Cup title. He would have to change eligibility of the series he earns points & would have zero points going into next Cup race. @NASCARONFOX

Chastain currently has a deal with Kaulig Racing and has said his focus was winning an Xfinity Series championship there, while he also has substituted for the injured Ryan Newman in the last three Cup races.

Because he has competed in every Cup race this year, Chastain would still be eligible for the Cup playoffs. He would have to move his declaration for points from Xfinity to Cup and would start with zero points, giving the rest of the field a four-race head start.

That would require permission from Kaulig Racing, and sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions, which Chastain helped bring to the team as the company views the Chastain family watermelon farm as a key element to its sponsorship. If he changed from Xfinity to Cup points, Chastain could run the majority of Xfinity races except for the Dash 4 Cash races, the final eight races (the regular-season finale and the playoff races).

If Ganassi is willing to give up the idea of a driver championship on the No. 42, it also could have Chastain run the majority of the races while missing some that conflict with Xfinity. It is unknown until NASCAR releases an updated schedule just how many conflicts there would be for a driver trying to run as many races as possible in both series.                                                                                    SEE TWEETS, VIDEO       ;            https://www.foxsports.com/nascar/story/chip-ganassi-racing-kyle-larson-041420

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