Former NASCAR Cup Series driver Landon Cassill was hosting a virtual NASCAR iRace at the Monza oval circuit which was featuring up to 60 drivers on the entry list. Many drivers were broadcasting their live footage via YouTube, or Twitch. Throughout the pre-race practice session, the current NASCAR Cup Series driver, Kyle Larson, was asking race director Chris Boreland how to chat with only his team. After getting clarification, Larson went to do a mic check with his team, unaware that he was broadcast to all drivers, and said, "you can't hear me, hey (expletive)."
While watching the event live via current Indycar Series drive Josef Newgarden's live broadcast of the race, Kyle Larson's named aggregated at the bottom of the screen indicating that he was talking to all the driver when he made his comment.
Afterward, Anthony Alfredo alerted Larson that he was talking to all teams when another driver said: "Kyle, you're talking to everyone bud." Then on his live broadcast, Indycar Series driver Connor Daly said "Yikes". NASCAR Cup Series driver Garrett Smithley said "Woah".
Streaming via Twitch, avid iRacing user Justin Botelho said: "damn, he did not just say that."
Many drivers sat in silence shocked that something like that would "slip" out of someone's mouth who makes at least 7 figures each year.
To add icing to the cake, Larson is a graduate of NASCAR's Drive for diversity program.
Going through the war zone
Every media outlet was reporting on what Larson had said, and the fact that nearly 50,000 people, were listening made this problem 100 times worse. NASCAR Reddit/Twitter was in a nice way a war zone, every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a phone was saying their opinion about what happened.
For years, NASCAR has been trying to shed the label of being a redneck hick sport full of southern racists. Over the past few years, with support from large cooperate companies like Barstool Sports, Coca-Cola, Geico, and Xfinity, NASCAR was looking to turn the corner, especially with the "Next-Gen" of NASCAR planned to begin in 2022.
Reddit user, Puffadda, said that his girlfriend is still hesitant to go to NASCAR races because they saw over 30 confederate flags during a race at Texas Motor Speedway. There is no nice way to say this, but about 90% of NASCAR fans are white, many of whom defended Larson following the accident, siting it was an accident.
Some fans were tagging current NASCAR Cup Series driver Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr, who is the only full-time African American driver in the sport.
Moments after the situation, Larson's most recent Instagram post to that point was being fueled with comments from both sides, some saying it was an accident, some saying he completely out of pocket, and some just saying they were disappointed. But, on a much light-hearted note, NASCAR Reddit/Twitter sure knows how to make some good quality memes/gifs, even if it means the end of someone's career.
As many news outlets were asking NASCAR, Kyle Larson, and Chip Ganassi Racing, Kyle's full-time NASCAR Cup Series team, for comments about their thoughts. Then as morning rose, NASCAR was the first to make their move, following a tweet from Bob Pockrass "NASCAR is aware of the insensitive language used by a driver during an iRacing event on Sunday." Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Larson would be suspended indefinitely without pay until further notice.
Then, NASCAR said Larson was suspended from the sport indefinitely until he completes a sensitivity training course. Shortly thereafter, Larson released a video on Twitter, and Instagram apologizing for the accident, quoted saying "the damage may not be fixable."
Many commenters were enraged that Larson said what he said, and was happy that he was suspended, some were happy that Larson made a video, compared to other celebrities who normally use a screenshot IOS notes page when making an apology. The next domino to fall was Larson's primary sponsor in NASCAR, Credit One Bank, who in a statement said: "Credit One Bank denounces the highly offensive language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday's iRacing event."
iRacing also announced that Larson would be suspended from the service indefinitely.
Larson, who's a free agent to be, wasn't expected to return to the #42 car in 2021, now this situation there's a near 0% chance of Larson racing for Ganassi ever again. Kyle Larson has made it public that he races in NASCAR as a hobby, he likes racing dirt cars, and has his own team, it wouldn't be shocking at all if NASCAR's race in March at Phoenix Raceway was the last time Larson was in NASCAR again.
If Kyle Larson were to return to NASCAR Cup Series, the best option for him would be Stewart Haas Racing, which is owned by his idol, Tony Stewart. Much like Larson was involved in a serious scandal of his own when he ran over, and killed fellow racer Kevin Ward Jr, in a dirt modified race in upstate New York in 2014.