Kyle Larson issues apology for using racial slur during iRacing event

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2020, file photo, Kyle Larson gets ready to climb into his car to practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Kyle Larson used a racial slur on a live stream Sunday. April 12, 2020, during a virtual race — the second driver in a week to draw scrutiny while using the online racing platform to fill time during the coronavirus pandemic.(AP Photo/Terry Renna, File)
Kyle Larson was suspended after using a racial slur on a live stream Sunday, April 12 during a virtual race. (AP Photo/Terry Renna, File)

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson issued an apology Monday after using a racial slur during an iRacing event broadcast that streamed on NASCAR’s website on Sunday night.

Larson was heard saying the n-word during the stream of the virtual race in what seemingly was meant for a private conversation. In the clip of Larson using the slur, someone responds by telling him that he is on a public channel.

In his apology, Larson said he was sorry for saying “the word that should never, ever be said.”

“Hey, I just want to say I’m sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said. There’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way,” Larson said in a video posted on his Twitter account. “It’s just an awful thing to say and 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. But I just want to let you all know how sorry I am and I hope everybody is staying safe during these crazy times. Thank you.”

Larson was competing with more than 60 other drivers during the virtual race on Sunday night and was heard using the word across multiple streams. The iRacing platform identifies who is speaking as the audio comes across the public driver conversation channel.

Larson suspended by CGR and NASCAR

Chip Ganassi Racing announced Monday that it has suspended Larson, 27, without pay.

“We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing event,” CGR said in its statement. “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.”

Later Monday, NASCAR announced its own suspension for Larson and ordered 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,” 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.”

NASCAR drivers have been participating in virtual races since the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to the racing season last month. The Cup Series is currently scheduled to resume on May 24 in Charlotte, but that could change depending on how the pandemic affects the country over the coming weeks.

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Originally published