NASCAR driver Kyle Larson has issued an apology one day after he used a racial slur during an iRacing live broadcast, saying he was sorry for the “irreparable” damage that the slur caused.
Larson was competing in an event on Sunday when he was heard using the n-word when talking to members of his team. As USA Today noted, Larson appeared to be checking if his microphone was working and said, “Hey, ni**er.”
The slur drew immediate pushback from the other racers competing in the event.
“Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud,” one driver replied.
The incident can be seen in the embedded video below, but be warned that it contains language many may find offensive.
Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing Team moved quickly after the controversial incident, suspending Larson on Monday and releasing a statement saying they were “extremely disappointed” in the driver’s conduct. Larson was also suspended by NASCAR for violating its Member Conduct Guidelines. It was not clear yet how long the suspension would last, as the NASCAR season is suspended indefinitely along with all other major American sports leagues during the coronavirus outbreak.
Shortly after the announcement of the suspensions, Larson took to Twitter to post an apology, saying there was no excuse for saying that word and adding that he was not “raised that way.” He went on to say that the damage from the racial slur would be difficult or impossible to heal.
“I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community. And especially the African-American community,” Larson said.
“I understand the damage is probably irreparable. I’ll own up to that. But I just wanted to let you all know how sorry I am. And I hope everybody is staying safe during these crazy times.”
The decisive action from NASCAR in issuing the suspension and in Larson by apologizing came after an immediate pushback from fans. Video of Larson’s racial slur quickly gained viral interest on Sunday, with his name shooting to the top of Twitter trends for the United States and video of the incident racking up tens of thousands of views in a matter of minutes.
Many called on NASCAR to punish Larson, noting that the organization had been making strides to increase diversity both among racing teams and with fans and that the incident put that hard work at risk. Others commented on the seeming pointlessness of the racial slur, not understanding why it was uttered with no context.