Kyle Larson has now been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR after initially being suspended by Chip Ganassi Racing without pay, and he must complete sensitivity training to be reinstated.
Actions have consequences, even in a so-called “virtual world”.
Larson, along with several dozen other drivers, was competing in Monza Madness at Autodromo Nazionale Monza. He appeared to lose communication with his spotter over his headset and proceeded to say “Hey N*****” to try to get his attention.
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The other drivers were quick to point out that Larson was being heard by everyone.
“Kyle, you’re talking to everyone bud,” one said.
“Yikes,” said another.
But by “everyone”, they meant the whole world, not just the other 61 drivers in the field. This race was being streamed live on Twitch, and it immediately blew up on Twitter because of what Larson said.
NASCAR, after initially releasing a statement about the matter saying that they were aware of what went down, released another statement.
"“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. 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.”"
Now Larson has been suspended indefinitely and will need to attend sensitivity training as directed by NASCAR in order to be reinstated. This behavioral penalty cites Sections 12.1 (General Procedures) and 12.8 (NASCAR Member Conduct Guidelines) of the official Rule Book.
Chip Ganassi Racing had released a statement earlier on Monday suspending Larson on their own.
"“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. As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.”"
Seven years ago, Xfinity Series driver Jeremy Clements was suspended for using the same word to a reporter. He was reinstated after completing sensitivity training and missed only two races.
It is unclear how Kyle Larson’s suspension will play out since the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season itself is currently suspended indefinitely due the coronavirus pandemic. Just four of the 36 races on the schedule have been contested, and the most recent race was held over a month ago on Sunday, March 8 at Phoenix Raceway.