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The offensive remark prompted McDonald’s and Credit One Bank to terminate their sponsorship deals with Larson, who drives the No. 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing. Credit One was Larson’s primary car sponsor.
"Credit One Bank denounces the highly offensive language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event,” the company said in a statement. “In addition to the quick actions taken by NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing, Credit One Bank is terminating its sponsorship of Kyle Larson."
Chip Ganassi Racing suspended Larson without pay within hours of the incident. In a separate disciplinary action, NASCAR indefinitely suspended the driver from competition.
McDonald’s has long-standing business ties to Chip Ganassi Racing. However, the fast-food chain said it would no longer work with Larson.
“We were extremely disappointed and appalled to hear about this incident,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “The comments made by Kyle Larson are insensitive, offensive and not reflective of our inclusive values and will not be tolerated. McDonald’s is taking immediate action to terminate the relationship with Larson.”
After Larson lost communication with his spotter during an iRacing event that streamed live on NASCAR’s channel on Twitch, the prominent esports platform, he said “you can’t hear me?” on the wrong audio channel, and he followed-up with the slur. The remark aired live on several driver live streams and prompted shocked reactions from some other participants.
Aside from his suspension from real-life races, iRacing said it would indefinitely suspend Larson from using its platform. NASCAR stars have participated in several virtual iRacing events in recent weeks after the coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of live races.
"NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday's iRacing event," NASCAR said in a statement. "Our Member Conduct Guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will enforce these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for our entire industry and fan base.''
Larson’s remark came during a race that was not sanctioned by NASCAR as part of its iRacing invitational series. Larson apologized for his conduct in a video posted to his social media accounts.
“Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said. There’s no excuse for that,” Larson 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, and I own up to that.”