NASCAR racing standout Kyle Larson found himself in a ton of hot water not just with fans, but his employer after comments he made during a recent iRacing event. Kyle, at one point, appeared to have lost communication with his team during the race and was attempting a sound check on the mic with his spotter.
What did Kyle say on the mic that ultimately got him in such hot water?
Kyle Larson was suspended indefinitely for the use of the N-word.
While he was checking his microphone, Larson said, "You can't hear me? Hey (n-----)."
I guess if he was trying to get the attention of his team, his attempt worked like a charm, but it also caught the attention of pretty much everyone who was tuning into the event.
A driver on the com line responded by saying, "Kyle, you're talking to everyone, bud," while another racer said, "No way did that just happen."
But it did happen, and Kyle's racing team, Chip Ganassi, was swift to take action. They immediately suspended Kyle without pay, and released a statement regarding his usage of the slur, calling his words, "offensive and unacceptable."
NASCAR found Kyle in violation of its organization's Member Conduct Guidelines, and it was mandated that he attend sensitivity training as a result.
The racing association wrote in a statement: "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. 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."
Kyle Larson issued an apology on Twitter the following day.
The 42-second clip saw the visibly upset racer apologizing for using the word: "Hey I just want to say I'm sorry, 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, it's just an awful thing to say and I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community, and especially the African-American community I understand the damage is probably unrepairable."
He continued, "And 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."
Response to Kyle's apology has been a fairly mixed bag. Several of his Instagram posts feature comments from users calling the driver a racist, with others commenting on pictures of him and his son, saying that Kyle was raising the boy to be a "racist p---k" just like he is.
The worst of Kyle's critical comments were extremely brutal and way out of line. But others were more straightforward in their questioning of his apology, saying that upon hearing his usage of the term, which was broadcast on Twitch and eNASCAR.com viewers, it seemingly came "too easy" to him. Others believed that he was just sorry he was caught and didn't think his apology was sincere.
Other fans said that they still supported Kyle Larson despite his usage of the term and that the apology he offered up was a heartfelt one.
It's hard to predict the consequences on Kyle's career this scandal will have. Michael Richards of Seinfeld is all but through in the entertainment industry, and while this wasn't as "violent" of an act, it's a fairly public story and there's a clear record of it.
NASCAR, despite heavily promoting inclusivity, does have a certain image of being kinda "redneck-ey," and if you have a driver using racist rhetoric openly on a broadcast, well, that's just a very bad look and something the association will more than likely want to distance itself from.