By on April 14, 2020

Chip Ganassi Racing officials have confirmed the organization’s split with NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (#42). 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.”

[Images: NASCAR]

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44 Comments on “Chip Ganassi Racing Boots Kyle Larson, NASCAR Issues Indefinite Suspension...”


  • avatar
    cprescott

    I feel for this guy. His background and his conduct on the racetrack show that he is not an evil dude. I understand the putridity of the word, but let his termination lead to a mass firing of all of that pigment that utters the “n” word for profit.

    If your ethnicity can use the word, then everyone can use the word.

    There should be no gray area here. What is good for the ones who claim they own it to the ones who use it out of stupidity, there can be no double standard here.

    As someone who is gay, I am not offended by the words uttered by neanderthals – if they want to use the “f” word toward me, that says so much about them. I don’t want anyone punished for using words to express their ignorance.

    I think Kyle got a raw end of this deal and hope that he can get another chance to overcome his youth. Just remember one political party tries to make 24 year olds as children with definition of insurance; so if he is a child, how can he be punished for a mistake?

    Pathetic overreaction here.

    • 0 avatar
      honda1

      You nailed it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The state of this world saddens me. I do not care if anyone calls me a cracker, a honky, a jag off, a f***er, a mick, a paddy, and whatever insults German heritage. Life is too short. But make no mistake, there is a political agenda with control of language.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        CPRESCOTT and 28….

        You guys nailed it. Thank you for saying things I cannot or did not think of.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        28,

        I think “kraut” works, although it is kind of antiquated. “Hun” “Heine” and “Bosch” also work.

        You are welcome.

        – Nate

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        This is not about bigotry, it is about power. I can use it, but you cannot. If you do, you will be crushed. Who has the power?

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        The N-word is a great example of the “political agenda with control of language”.

        Whites have used it through history as a way to marginalize others. And in a Democracy, marginalizing others is purely political.

        It’s easy for those who are on the ‘right side’ of political power to not care about being called “a cracker, a honky, a jag off, a f***er, a mick, a paddy, and whatever insults German heritage” because those words don’t have power against those aligned with power.

        I urge you to do some research about the use, and reclamation, of hate speech in America. You run the risk of having your mind changed, and I encourage you to go through the process.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        that’s fine, but what makes you think you can say that on behalf of anyone else?

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Have you spent any time researching the history of reclaimed language? I believe that if you do so, with an open mind, you will change your opinion on the subject. That will take time, effort, and probably some emotional discomfort.

      And please understand that white supremacists also use the ‘they use the word’ argument. Without knowing it, you are reinforcing the views of the most vile people there are. And who wants to do that?

      Once white racism against the black community is long in our rearview mirror, then it may be the time for the community to choose to give up the word.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ah, so…black NASCAR driver who has impeccable conduct on the racetrack calls a white guy “cracker” and it’s all good? Of course it isn’t.

      NASCAR is a business and it can’t afford employees who say racially offensive s**t. Period.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    Warning to all white guys: do NOT appropriate the black ghetto language and behavior for your own. The foul language, the gansta moves and dress, the misogyny etc… first of all it looks ridiculous vis. eminem (kind of like a New Yorker in cowboy gittup), and second, sooner or later – just like Larson – you will likely accidently use it out of context and you will be punished. Use the “F” word enough with your friends and sooner or later you’ll blurt it out in front of the old man…..

  • avatar
    randyinrocklin

    Just a big time double standard with this PC bull.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      I recommend that you, and all that agree, to use the N-word frequently, and in normal conversation. If you try it, you’ll quickly change your behavior, because while it’s easy to be bold on teh interwebz, it’s a whole ‘nuther thing to do it in real life.

      Plus, people who speak that way, fly the reb’ flag, and run Truck Nutz are much easier to avoid than those who keep their racist views on the down-low. Be proud, not sneaky.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The issues is not the word itself, which is why nobody cares about your double standard argument.

      The issues is the (perceived) intent of the speaker.

      My very-white son speaks Spanish (dual language immersion), and he uses the word “negro” as a white kid all the time (while speaking Spanish) in front of parents and teachers who walk the SJW walk. Nobody has an issue with it, because he’s referring to an actual physical color — rather than trying to demean a person. Telling his brother to “shut up” gets a reaction, while pointing out that an iron skillet es negro is no issue.

      That’s really all there is to it. It’s really about manners. The proble. with the n-word brings in 243 years of abuse of my friends and neighbors and a war in which half a million Americans died into the conversation — and so people (understandably) get a little prickly about it. But, it really comes down to the perceived intent of the speaker.

      Being a rural/southern thing, NASCAR has a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to expanding their fanbase. They’ve really got to be on top of this stuff if they want to have a snowball’s chance of pulling in new fans from the nation-at-large. The drivers need to hold themselves to high standard in public — but that’s just part of the deal with being a celebrity who represents your sport.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    If he were a rapper, this wouldn’t be an issue. :-(

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Probably, but he is a driver in a sport that is conscious of it’s “Good Ol’ Boy Rebel Flag Waving Image” that is paid to drive a car funded by companies being willing to paint their logos on the car. It was a boneheaded thing to do and the reaction was predictable.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      That’s because of the preceived intent of the speaker.

      The word brings between 243 and 400 years of abuse into the conversation.

      How the speaker looks is part of how most people interpret what is meant by bringing that into a conversation.

      It’s one thing if the speaker means “my ancestors and yours survived that together”, and quite something different if the speaker means “my ancestors did that to yours”.

      This stuff is not difficult, but some people make an effort to misunderstand it, for some reason…

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The fact that so many African-Americans drop the n-bomb makes the question more complex, but here’s how it boils down: black folks using it doesn’t make it right for others to use it. Period.

      The guy is an embarrassment to his employer, and they have every right to discipline him.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        How it’s used means everything. At least to the rest of us. One dumb white dude trying to sound clever or street, to another white (or non black) dude, who cares?

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Maybe he should have used a $50 word if he wanted to sound clever, you know?

          The guy said something stupid and got fired, plain and simple. I’ve gotten fired for saying stupid stuff too – nothing racial, of course, but stupid enough. Doesn’t make me a bad guy, but I was stupid. I learned. This guy will too.

          And I don’t care how many black folks use the same word – it’s still wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I agree he was wrong, I agree with his firing, but between us, it was (thought to be) a private conversation, with no intended victim or victims.

            Intent is everything. If anyone feels they are a victim by this event, that’s totally their right.

      • 0 avatar
        schmitt trigger

        Exactly like Chris Rock famously uses it during his stand-up comedy.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    uh-huh-huh… he said “boner.” uhh-huh-huh

  • avatar

    I did not get what’s going on. Tried to read article (unusual for me) but got bored very fast. America is a cultural enigma.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Kid listened to a lot of rap music.
      Kid incorporated bad words from rap music into friendly dialect with buddies.
      Kid raced in NASCAR and became famous.
      Kid played video games on air to promote NASCAR.
      Kid casually said bad words on air thinking it was a private conversation with buddies.
      Kid got fired from NASCAR.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Everyone fulminating about “PC” or supposed double standards needs to just go read this: https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/a32141249/we-dont-know-kyle-larson/

  • avatar
    Rovercar

    When you do something that causes all of your major sponsors to refuse to fund your drive, you can’t put the blame on your car owner or anyone else when you lose your ride. Sponsorship is ALL about public relations and the image you project, and NASCAR has no shortage whatsoever of talented young drivers seeking a ride.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Hopefully this will catch the sharp attention all idiots – You are right to be afraid of the daylight, because this world is increasingly impatient with you.

    Pageant contestants are easily replaceable….

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It sounds like it’s time for him to get his own car/sponsors.

    It could be the best thing that happened to him.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Like which companies?

      Ted Nugent’s Coronavirus Spreading Tour?

      The KKK?

      Monster Jam?

      Whoever produces trailer-hitch testicles?

      Wife-beater T producers?

      Seriously, though, what sponsors are willing to sponsor a guy who uses the N-word?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      So in the modern era of NASCAR, the situation you describe is far from optimal and even in the golden era the “Owner/Driver” Has spotty results at best.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Pardon me while I whip out my virtue.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Asked this before and I’ll ask it again:

    Black NASCAR driver gets caught using a epithet about another race (and there are plenty of them – take your pick). He get suspended from his team.

    It’s PC run amok…right?

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Most people don’t realize their own biases. We’re all biologically biased toward believing that we’re ‘in the right’. It’s painful to admit that we didn’t have all the facts, that we weren’t as empathetic as we should have been, and that we need to work at being the best person we can be. That’s why so few people actually commit themselves to it. Basically, if ‘you’ think you have it all figured out, you certainly do not.

      This is the most conservative car site I know of. Most of the time, I like the articles. When it ventures into politics, I have disagreement with many of the comments.

      I am commenting now because I believe that I can reach someone. If I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t bother.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Kyle Larsen is easy for NASCAR. The real question would be how would they have handled this had it been Dale (SR or JR), Jeff, Jimmy or whoever a current top driver is (No clue, I quit watching mostly long ago but do tune into the 500 and have followed the iRacing stuff because I run iRacing). NASCAR has at best a checkered history of doling out discipline in a consistent manner. Hence the whole “Below the yellow Line is Dale Earnhardt’s race track”, as was the grass at a road course.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      NASCAR didn’t fire him, they just suspended him until he completed sensitivity training (which usually results in like 2 missed weeks).

      Larson was let go by his racing team after his sponsors refused to work with him any longer, it wasn’t a decision of the sanctioning body. Theoretically if Jeff Gordon did the same thing, but DuPont shrugged it off then nothing drastic would happen. Larson can still drive in NASCAR for any team, but if the corporate sponsors don’t want him then he won’t get a ride.

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