The Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C.–Kyle Larson was fired today by Chip Ganassi Racing, a day after nearly every one of his sponsors dropped the star driver for using a racial slur during a live stream of a virtual race.
Larson, in his seventh Cup season with Ganassi and considered the top free agent in NASCAR just weeks ago, is now stunningly out of a job in what could ultimately be an eight-figure blunder by the star.
“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson,” Ganassi said. “As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take.”
The unraveling began Sunday night when Larson was competing in one of the iRacing virtual events drivers are playing during the sports stoppage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Larson appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter.
During a check of his microphone, he asked his spotter, “You can’t hear me?” That was followed by the N-word. The slur from Larson was directed at his spotter, who is white.
He was suspended without pay by Ganassi early yesterday, then suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and Larson, who is half Japanese, was ordered to complete a sensitivity training.
But his entire program fell apart as primary sponsors McDonalds and Credit One Bank pulled their funding from Larson. Chevrolet suspended its relationship with him, and all but one commercial partner denounced Larson’s comment and indicated they were ending their relationship.
Without funding on the No. 42 Chevrolet, the situation became untenable for Ganassi to not fire Larson.
“I understand the damage is probably unrepairable and I own up to that,” said Larson, who reached out to many sponsors and friends to apologize.