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NASCAR forces driver to undergo sensitivity training after tweeting Family Guy joke

The green flag flies on a new season of NASCAR. (Nascarking/Wikimedia Commons)
April 28, 2022

NASCAR announced on Tuesday that it is forcing one of its drivers to undergo “sensitivity training” after the driver posted on Twitter a clip from the popular animated sitcom Family Guy that mocked Asian drivers.

Denny Hamlin posted the clip stereotyping Asian drivers in response to the end of a race at Talladega, where driver Kyle Larson hit Kurt Busch. The crash caused Busch to hit the wall and collide with another driver, Bubba Wallace, Yahoo Sport reported.

The clip was criticized as a dig at Larson’s maternal family, which is Japanese.

Within hours of posting the tweet, Hamlin deleted it and issued an apology.

“I took down a post I made earlier today after reading some of the comments. It was a poor choice of memes and I saw how it was offensive. It came across totally wrong. I apologize,” he tweeted.

The following day, NASCAR announced that Hamlin must begin sensitivity training by the end of the week.

“A NASCAR spokesperson sent the update Tuesday afternoon, saying the process must begin by the end of this week,” a NASCAR report stated. “The mandated course comes in response to a social-media post that Hamlin sent Monday afternoon. Hamlin’s post was directed toward Kyle Larson, whose last-lap move in Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway collected the 23XI Racing entries of Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace. Hamlin is a co-owner of the 23XI operation.”

Prior to the start of the 2021 season, NASCAR mandated sensitivity training for all participants. Other drivers have been required to take additional training after saying or posting what the organization deemed to be offensive, including Larson, who was suspended in 2020 after using the N-word during a virtual race.

Last year, NASCAR distanced itself from the popular anti-President Joe Biden chant “Let’s Go Brandon,” warning that the organization will pursue legal action against anyone using its trademark on products that feature the phrase.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the organization “will pursue whoever (is using logos) and get that stuff.”

“That’s not OK. It’s not OK that you’re using our trademarks illegally, regardless of whether we agree with what the position is,” Phelps said.

The phrase, which quickly became a euphemism for “F—k Joe Biden,” got its start at a NASCAR event at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama when NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast said a crowd chanting “F—k Joe Biden” was actually chanting “Let’s go Brandon” in support of Brandon Brown who had just earned his first career win.