NASCAR officials have ordered star driver Denny Hamlin undergo sensitivity training over a recent tweet he posted to his verified Twitter account with a racist joke about Asian drivers — in reference to fellow racer Kyle Larson.
Hamlin must begin the training by the end of the week, a NASCAR spokesperson said.
Hamlin posted a tweet Monday that showed a brief clip from the cartoon comedy show “Family Guy” in which an Asian woman speaks in a heavily stereotyped accent and says a comment about a turn signal when changing lanes. Over that clip, Hamlin superimposed “Kyle Larson.” Then, once the clip from “Family Guy” ends, the footage cuts to a crash Larson was a part of during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Hamlin later tried to rationalize his reasons for the message and has since deleted the tweet. By Monday night, he aplogized.
“I took down a post I made earlier today after reading some of the comments,” Hamlin tweeted. “It was a poor choice of memes and I saw how it was offensive. It came across totally wrong. I apologize.”
Larson’s mother is Japanese-American.
Hamlin drives for Joe Gibbs Racing and is the co-owner with Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan of 23XI Racing, which employs drivers Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch.
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Hamlin also has an affiliation with Toyota through both JGR and 23XI. The auto maker issued a statement in response to the Hamlin tweet, saying it supported NASCAR’s decision.
“We have spoken with Denny Hamlin regarding his tweet from yesterday,” Toyota said in the statement. “Toyota supports NASCAR’s decision to mandate sensitivity training for Denny and we will all move forward together.”
Larson, himslef, has dealt with a similar situation. In the spring of 2020, he said the n-word during a virtual i-racing live stream he was a part of that led to his being fired from his former team and suspended by NASCAR. He was reinstated half a year later, and his now current team, Hendrick Motorsports, signed him for the 2021 season. Larson then went on to win his first Cup Series championship in November.