April 13 (UPI) — NASCAR handed an indefinite suspension to Kyle Larson on Monday after the Cup Series driver used a racial slur during a virtual race.
Larson was competing in an iRacing event Sunday when he lost communication with his spotter on his headset. He said the slur while doing a microphone check. A brief moment of silence passed before fellow drivers alerted Larson that he was on a live microphone.
“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,” the organization said Monday.
“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 apologized for the incident in a video posted to his social media accounts.
“I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said,” Larson said. “There is 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 unrepareairable and I own up to that. But I just want to let you all know how sorry I am and I hope everybody is staying safe during these crazy times.”
Chip Ganassi Racing also suspended Larson without pay. NASCAR ordered Larson to complete a sensitivity training course before he can be reinstated. He also was suspended indefinitely from iRacing.
“We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event,” Chip Ganassi Racing said. “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.”
Credit One Bank, one of Larson’s primary Cup Series sponsors, said it has “denounced” Larson’s language and supports the actions taken by NASCAR and Larson’s racing team.
NASCAR drivers have been competing in iRacing events during the sport’s hiatus from live events due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Drivers who compete in iRacing use a computer connected to the Internet, a monitor, steering wheel, driver’s seat and pedals to compete against other drivers in virtual races while being watched by fans who subscribe to the events.
NASCAR stars — including Larson — have been competing in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Series Invitational since March 22. Cup Series driver Landon Cassill set up Sunday’s race as the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Series Invitational was on an Easter break.
The Nascar-promoted virtual series will continue April 19 at virtual Richmond Raceway in Virginia.