NASCAR driver Larson sacked after racial slur

Los Angeles (AFP) –


NASCAR team Chip Ganassi Racing sacked Kyle Larson on Tuesday, a day after sponsors fled the star driver over his use of a racial slur during a live streamed virtual race.

Larson was in his seventh Cup season with Ganassi and was expected to become one of the popular stock car series' most sought-after free agents when his contract expired after the 2020 season.

Instead, he is in NASCAR wilderness.

"After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson," the team said in a statement.

"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 team had already suspended Larson, as had NASCAR. Sponsors McDonald's and Credit One Bank moved Monday to terminate their relationships with the driver.

Larson was taking part in the Monza Madness iRacing exhibition race late on Sunday.

The virtual races are a chance for fans to connect with drivers as sports are shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A video from another competitor's Twitch stream picked up the slur on the audio channel that allows competitors to hear each other.

In the video, Larson, appearing to think he is not connected to the stream, said: "You can't hear me? Hey (racial slur)."

Xfinity driver Anthony Alfredo then said: "Kyle, you're talking to everyone, bud."

Larson himself offered an abject video apology on his social media platforms on Monday.

"Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said," the 27-year-old said. "There's no excuse for that."

Larson offered apologies to his family, his coworkers and the African-American community.

"I understand the damage is probably irreparable," he said. "I own up to it."