That’s all I can really think to say after hearing and watching what was said on live stream by Kyle Larson. While racing in an iRacing event being streamed live, Larson was heard over his mic saying “Can you hear me, N-word?”
When his fellow driver told him that he was live on the stream and that everyone heard him, Larson went silent. He has been suspended indefinitely without pay until the incident is resolved.
What does that mean?
NASCAR will “assess” the live stream footage and dish out a suitable punishment in their eyes. Chip Ganassi Racing will also see how many sponsors will pull from back Larson and go from there.
Back in 2013, Jeremy Clements was suspended indefinitely after using the N-word and forced to go through a sensitivity training before returning. However, Clements was and still is self-employed so his job security wasn’t ever in too much jeopardy. His use of the profanity was also not recorded so there was little evidence to reach the mass media.
Larson is a young high profile driver and it’ll be much more difficult to shake this. He will have just as much difficulty, keeping his marquee sponsors in Credit One Bank and McDonald’s. Let’s be real, there is no way he’s keeping either of those sponsors.
With Ganassi’s two biggest sponsors more than likely backing out, you now have a decision to make if you are him. Replace Kyle with another driver that Credit One and McDonald’s can get behind, or stick with Kyle and be given bupkiss for sponsorship dollars for years until the heat dies down.
Larson’s days at CGR are more than likely coming to an end. The circumstances are too damning for him to be able to recover from. Even in a southern climate like NASCAR, there aren’t many lifeboats to aim for in this situation.
My prediction: Larson is too talented to never get another ride. I think he will be relieved of his duties from CGR and face a possible year-long suspension next season or at least for the remainder of this season. Once that is over he will probably get an opportunity with a lesser team like Front Row Motorsports, Go Fas Racing, or Gaunt Bros. Racing and build his way back up from the bottom.
Worst case: he goes on to spend the rest of his racing days in sprint cars and he’d probably be just as happy.
The bottom line is that was no excuse for him to use the word. Whether he was addressing an African American or not is irrelevant. For any non-African American person to use that word no matter the context is uncalled for. This will be a harsh lesson for Larson that nobody can get away with such insensitivity.