For the second straight week, there is controversy surrounding NASCAR's virtual iRacing platform. On Sunday, NASCAR star Kyle Larson used a racial slur on a Twitch livestream of an iRacing event. He lost communication on his headset with his spotter at one point, and during a microphone check moments later said "You can't hear me?," which was followed by the N-word. Video of the exchange was captured and uploaded to YouTube (Warning: Graphic language.)
One driver who was on the stream with Larson heard the racial slur and immediately said, "Kyle, you're talking to everyone, bud."
NASCAR suspended Larson indefinitely as a result of his actions.
"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 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."
In addition, Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Monday that Larson has been suspended without pay. Larson has also been dropped by three major sponsors, Chevrolet, McDonald's and Capital One Bank, in wake of his comments during Sunday's iRacing event.
"We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event," Chip Ganassi Racing said in a 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."
After Larson was suspended. he issued a video apology on his Twitter account.
"I just want to say I'm sorry," Larson said. "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. That's just an awful thing to say. I feel very sorry for my family, friends, partners, NASCAR community, and especially the African American community."
iRacing has been utilized by NASCAR -- and even televised as a source of entertainment for racing fans -- due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the cancellation of many events. Sunday night's race was "for fun" and included drivers from various series. It was not part of an official NASCAR series, according to the Associated Press.
Larson, who is half Japanese and is the only active NASCAR driver of Japanese descent to win a race, participated in NASCAR's "Drive for Diversity" program as he made his way through the ranks of the racing circuit.
Last Sunday, controversy hit the iRacing circuit when Bubba Wallaceduring a race at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. The event was televised nationally. Wallace later admitted to his lack of judgment on Twitter, but it appeared to be too late. One of Wallace's sponsors, Blue-Emu, ended up firing the NASCAR driver due to his unsportsmanlike conduct.
Larson is currently in his seventh full season with NASCAR and drives for Chip Ganassi Racing. The 27-year old driver is in the final year of his contract with the team. Larson has six career Cup victories and is coming off a sixth place finish in the standings during the 2019 season.