NASCAR nation discourse over Kyle Larson firing

As some of you may have read, NASCAR driver Kyle Larson got fired from his race team due to him using the N-word during an iRacing event.

On Sunday, April 12, a group of both professional and iRacing drivers were participating in a race online.

iRacing, which I’ve spoken of before in this column, allows drivers to talk to each other in an open chat room.

Larson, trying to reach out to a fellow racer used the racial slur in a non-negative way. Something along the lines of “Hey [insert slur.]”

Clearly not a good or okay thing to do.

Larson’s world came crashing down in 48 hours.

The next day Larson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and his race team. Sponsors terminated contracts and relationships with him, and by Tuesday morning Larson was fired from his team that originally suspended indefinitely.

Official iRacing logo

After all the dust settled, this situation brought up the question of should all of this have happened as a result of the situation?

Now let me clarify, the question was spawned from the fact that it happened on iRacing, not from his using the slur.

Racial slurs aren’t acceptable in any regard.

However, it happened on a platform that isn’t related to NASCAR’s real-life racing series. Now, NASCAR does own part of iRacing, and the event was broadcast on NASCAR’s YouTube channel.

The audio wasn’t broadcast on the channel.

So people are here questioning, should he have been fired from his real-life team for something that happened on a virtual platform?

The NASCAR community is split.

Before I give my opinion on this, I just wanted to say that some of the sponsors who terminated contracts with Larson are major sponsors for Chip Ganassi Racing. This means that if Chip Ganassi kept Larson, he would be losing all the sponsorship money, which is what pays for and runs the team.

I, like the rest of NASCAR nation, am torn.

I don’t like that he used that slur, and that it’s even in his vocabulary. However, I don’t believe that he should have been fired.

I can see why it was done because sponsors equal money, which equals paying for and running a race team. If you lose the sponsors you lose money, which results in a struggling team.

Larsons former #42 car

But I still don’t believe he had to be fired.

Yes, maybe remove him from his top tier series seat. Yes, suspend him indefinitely until he goes through NASCAR’s sensitivity training course.

But once he completes his training, maybe put him in a lower-tier car? Allow him to work back to the top?

Another factor is that this year was his contract year. So maybe Chip Ganassi was already considering removing him from the seat, and this just accelerated that process.

The situation as a whole is tough and sticky. If there is a flip side to all this, it came at what could be considered the best possible time, if there is such a thing.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no cars are on track. So it gives Larson time to go through the training, and Chip Ganassi time to find a replacement.

Nonetheless, here we are. Larson is ride-less, and Ganassi needs to find a driver to fill the #42 cars in the NASCAR Cup Series. I wish Kyle the best of luck in his road back to the top.

He’ll find a ride, he’s a great driver. Only time will tell where he lands.

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