Kyle Larson is no longer a driver for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Larson, 27, was fired by the team on Tuesday, a day after he was suspended by it for saying the n-word during an iRacing race on Sunday night that was broadcast on NASCAR’s website.
“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.”
Larson used the word in what he appeared to think was a private radio conversation during the race. But the slur was broadcast on the public driver conversation channel and heard by fans watching the race live and other participants. The race featured over 60 drivers from in and around NASCAR.
The fallout from Larson’s usage of the word was immediate. CGR suspended him Monday morning without pay and NASCAR immediately followed suit, saying that Larson had to complete sensitivity training to be reinstated and able to drive if and when real racing resumes.
The more significant consequences followed Monday afternoon when Credit One and McDonald’s, the two biggest corporate sponsors on Larson’s car, said that they were terminating their relationship with him. Without millions of dollars in sponsorship money going forward, it suddenly became financially impossible for CGR to field a competitive car for Larson.
And now he’s without a ride at NASCAR’s top level. And who knows how long he’ll be without one going forward. Larson was set to be a free agent after the 2020 season and the most sought-after driver on the market. Now, that market may no longer exist as he’s a driver that sponsors will be extremely wary of associating with. And you can’t race competitively in NASCAR without a big sponsor or three.
Moments after CGR fired Larson, Chevrolet also terminated its agreement with him. Larson has driven Chevys in his entire Cup career and Chevy’s move to disassociate from Larson likely means that the chances are now slim-to-none that Larson is a candidate to succeed Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 car.
Larson entered the Cup Series full-time in 2014 and has won six races over the past four-plus seasons. He’s finished in the top 10 of the points standings in each of the last four seasons and was seventh in the standings through the first four races of 2020.
A Japanese-American whose maternal grandparents spent time in a Japanese internment camp, Larson became the first participant of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity initiative to win a Cup Series race when he got his first win in 2016.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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