Kyle Larson, a six-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, was fired Tuesday by Chip Ganassi Racing after he used the n-word during a livestreamed virtual race.
The 27-year-old from California was competing in an iRacing event on Sunday night when he appeared to lose communication with his spotter on his headset.
In a subsequent microphone check, Larson said, “You can’t hear me?” followed by the n-word.
Larson’s fellow competitors on the virtual race appeared shocked by his use of the racial slur.
“Kyle, you are talking to everyone, bud,” one driver said. Another responded, “Yikes.”
On Monday, Chip Ganassi Racing suspended Larson without pay, and NASCAR suspended him indefinitely. He was also ordered to complete sensitivity training.
However, on Tuesday, Chip Ganassi Racing fired him. Larson was in the final year of his contract with the team.
“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson,” the organization said in a statement. “As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization.”
Larson had apologized in a video on Monday before his termination.
“I want to say I’m sorry,” Larson said in the video. “Last night, I made a mistake and said the word that should never ever be said and there’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way, you know, it’s just an awful thing to say.”
Larson apologized to his family, NASCAR, and the black community.
“You know, 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,” Larson said.
NASCAR’s iRacing program is an online racing series that virtually mirrors the NASCAR cup series and has attracted a large number of viewers who can witness big-name drivers race and banter with each other.
Larson was suspended indefinitely on Monday by iRacing, which said his language during the online race was “both offensive and inappropriate.”
Larson’s sponsors, including McDonald’s, Credit One Bank, and Fiserv, ended their deals with him before he was fired. Chevrolet also suspended its relationship with him.
Larson finished his career-best sixth in the season point standings last year and was seventh in this year’s standings before NASCAR was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The racing star’s mother is a Japanese American and he is a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which was created to attract more minority and women drivers in a sport that has notoriously lacked racial diversity and has a historical association with the Confederate flag.