NASCAR Suspends Driver Kyle Larson for Using Racial Slur During Virtual Race
In a statement to PEOPLE, NASCAR said it "will not tolerate the type of language" used by the driver
NASCAR‘s Kyle Larson is now suspended after he was heard uttering a racial slur during a virtual race over the weekend.
On Sunday, the driver was participating in an iRacing match-up with 61 other racers that was broadcast live to viewers on Twitch and eNASCAR.com, according to USA Today. When Larson, 27, seemed to be having technical difficulties, he remarked on his microphone, “You can’t hear me? Hey, [racial slur].”
The moment was captured and re-shared on Twitter, with other people heard reacting to the comment during the stream, saying, “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud,” “Yep, we heard that,” and “Yikes.”
On Monday, NASCAR penalized Larson by indefinitely suspending him and requiring him to attend sensitivity training.
“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 told PEOPLE in a statement. “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.”
Responding to the backlash on Monday, Larson posted a video apology on Twitter.
Larson said that the “damage is probably unrepairable and I own up to that,'” adding that he “made a mistake and said the word that should never ever be said.”
He continued, “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.”
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In a statement issued on Twitter, Chip Ganassi Racing, of which Larson is a team member in the NASCAR Cup Series, said it is suspending Larson without pay.
“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,” reads the statement. “As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.”
Larson, who shares two children with his wife Katelyn, drives the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, and he won the 2019 All-Star Race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.