NASCAR driver Kyle Larson used a racial slur during the livestream broadcast of an exhibition virtual race on Sunday night.
Larson, of Chip Ganassi Racing in NASCAR's Cup Series, was competing in an iRacing event when he seemed to lose communication on his headset with his spotter. During the microphone check, Larson could be heard saying the slur. "You can't hear me?" he said on the livestream. "Hey, (expletive)."
“Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud," one driver replied. Another person said, "No way did that just happen."
Larson's radio communication was broadcast to followers on Twitch, a gaming app, as well as to eNASCAR.com viewers. The other 61 drivers in the race were also on the virtual race session, which was not part of a NASCAR official series.
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Shortly after the slur, users on the radio chat responded in disbelief and it didn't take long for a replay of the incident to show up on social media.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (42) addresses the media during NASCAR Media Day at the Daytona 500 Club. (Photo: Mike Dinovo, USA TODAY Sports)
Messages sent by USA TODAY Sports to NASCAR, Chip Ganassi Racing and iRacing on Monday morning were not immediately returned. It was not immediately clear what the fallout for Larson would be from NASCAR and sponsors.
Larson, 27, is half Japanese and is the only driver of Japanese descent to win a major NASCAR race. He and climbed from short track racing into NASCAR through its “Drive for Diversity” program. In his seventh season, Larson is considered one of the top sprint car racers in the country and in January finally won the prestigious Chili Bowl after 13 attempts.
Larson is in the final year of his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing. His sponsors at Ganassi are McDonald's and Credit One Bank.
NASCAR's iRacing has become a mainstay for sports fans with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down sports, drawing record esports television views. Drivers typically can link into another live stream to banter and make jokes. Fans can eavesdrop on that platform through Twitch. Sunday's exhibition event was tabbed, "Monza Madness." The event simulated at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy.
It's the second week in a row that a NASCAR driver has drawn scrutiny while racers use the online platform to entertain fans. Last week, Bubba Wallace “rage quit” an official NASCAR iRacing event televised live nationally and his sponsor fired him immediately.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
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