Chip Ganassi Racing Boots Kyle Larson, NASCAR Issues Indefinite Suspension
Chip Ganassi Racing officials have confirmed the organization’s split with NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson ( Tuesday’s announcement comes less than two days after Larson was heard uttering a racial slur during an iRacing event held on Easter Sunday. Chip Ganassi Racing previously decided to suspend the driver without pay while it examined the situation. As that probably focused heavily on the public response, its decision to sever the seven-year relationship is hardly surprising.
While technically guilty of the same behavior every random teen with a gaming headset engages in during online play (until you mute them out of frustration), Larson made the rookie mistake of not being fourteen while also having a racing contract and enough NASCAR wins to be considered high profile. If he plans to keep racing within the sport, he’ll be required to attend sensitivity training. NASCAR has also issued an indefinite suspension, citing violations of the organization’s general procedures and member conduct guidelines.
“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 wrote. “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.”
Ironically, Larson was a graduate of the racing body’s “Drive for Diversity” initiative. Aimed at encouraging more minority and female drivers/fans, he was one of the few that turned the opportunity into a legitimate career. He even praised the program on numerous occasions, noting how difficult it was for most people to find a point of entry for the sport. He earned six victories, 56 top-five finishes, 101 top ten placements and eight Busch Pole Awards in his NASCAR Cup Series career.
While his penance seems strict, Larson’s contract with Chip Ganassi was scheduled to expire this year. Meanwhile, NASCAR has suspended the 2020 season until at least May over the coronavirus pandemic. With chances of the series being further delayed looking rather strong, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t have seen much time behind the wheel this year, anyway. However, he won’t be able to make up the difference online. On Tuesday, iRacing released a statement saying Larson would be indefinitely suspended from using its service.
Larson issued a public apology on Monday, saying he understood “the damage is probably unrepairable.” He has since remained silent on the matter. Responses to that video post (below) have spanned the gamut. While some offered forgiveness (on behalf of nobody in particular) or simply downplayed the issue, most declined to give absolution. Some even turned things around by making racially insensitive remarks about Larson’s own heritage — which is absolutely as tone deaf as it sounds. By contrast, Chip Ganassi Racing’s response to the incident was downright tepid.
“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson,” the organization wrote in a press release. “As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take.”
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) April 13, 2020
Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.
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