The Sad Saga of Kyle Larson


RAINELLE, WV - RIS - It’s amazing how things have changed since the beginning of March.  After the March 8th NASCAR Cup series race at Phoenix no one has been racing.  Joey Logano had won his second (of the four events run) race.  Other winners were Denny Hamlin, Alex Bowman, and William Byron.  It looked like Team Penske, and Hendrix Motorsports has found their mojo.  The racing stopped then and there., It had been a noticeable season already.  Ryan Newman had survived a crash that this old writer thought was fatal.  A promising season was halted because of the pandemic called the Corona virus.

Thanks to Fox Sports and NBC Sports, some drivers participated in computer races using a program called iRacing.  Kyle Larson was participating in such a race on March 12th.  Over a live feed, Larson used a racial slur.  The next day, he was suspended by Chip Ganassi Racing, his sponsors withdrew support of him, and NASCAR demanded he go to a diversity training before he could run again anywhere in any of its races. 

Today, Ganassi released him from his contract.  The once budding star was now out  No ride, no manufacturer, and no racing for the foreseeable future.  Larson tried to apologize on his Twitter feed.  None of that worked

Larson said, “Hey, I just want to say I’m sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said. There’s no excuse for that. 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. But I just want to let you all know how sorry I am, and I hope everybody is staying safe during these crazy times. Thank you.”

It is a sad story.  Larson was at the end of his contract and had been rumored as one of the leading contenders to replace Jimmie Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the season.  That’s not going to happen.  HMS fields Chevrolets.  It’s not likely that he could join Ford or a Toyota team even if he completes the diversity training.

No one has been named at Ganassi even or when the season starts again.  Likely sponsors will stay away, also.  Ganassi’s statement was simple and to the point.

"After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson," the CGR statement said. ... Larson issued the following statement on Monday: "I want to say I'm sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever, be said.”

Ron Fleshman

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2020, Issue 4, Posted 11:39 PM, 04.14.2020