Kyle Larson, who had recently been considered one of the top free agent drivers in NASCAR in recent days, has been fired by his racing team and dropped by several sponsors over his use of a racial slur last weekend.
Chip Ganassi Racing released a statement on Tuesday that said the team was cutting ties with the Nikkei driver, after Larson was heard uttering a derogatory term often aimed at African Americans, during a live-streamed virtual racing event on Sunday.
“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 statement read in part.
In a video he posted on social media Monday, Larson, 27, took responsibility for his behavior.
“I just want to say I’m sorry. Last night, I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said. There’s no excuse for that,” he said. “I wasn’t raised that way; it’s just an awful thing to say.
“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 [sic], and I own up to that.
“I just wanted to let you all know how sorry I am, and I hope everybody is staying safe during these crazy times.”
Larson, who was in his seventh season with Ganassi, has seen almost every one of his sponsors end their relationships with him, including McDonald’s and Chevrolet. With no sponsors willing to continue supporting the Ganassi team while Larson was the driver, Chip Ganassi made what he termed an “emotional call” to dismiss the racer.
“I told Kyle he can come back from this. He can even come back from this with our team,” Ganassi told The Associated Press. “But there really wasn’t any choice.”