NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan received social media scorn after she was heard saying the R-word during a virtual race Sunday night.
During the Twitch livestream, the 19-year-old — who is scheduled to drive full-time in NASCAR's 2021 Truck Series — appeared to be nudged by another virtual car during the video game race.
"Oh! Hey!" the stock car racing driver was heard saying. "Who’s the ------ behind me?! Don’t do that, please."
After the shocking clip circulated around the Internet, several social media users voiced their disapproval on Twitter.
“Hey @HailieDeegan the word ‘------' is a slur. It's a slur against people with disabilities like myself. I don't hate you at all, but you shouldn't use that word. Please don't use the r-word. God bless you,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Y’all remember when Hailie Deegan seemed like to be a great driver to root for? Yeah, me too...” a commenter said.
“Actions like this should not go unpunished especially at this level,” another added.
Later that night, Deegan issued an apology, calling what she said “inappropriate slang.”
“Earlier tonight I used an insensitive word during an online race being broadcast on twitch. It was inappropriate slang and a stupid thing to do,” she wrote. “I apologize to everyone who was offended by it. There's no excuse for it, and I know I have to do better for my sponsors and my fans.”
Earlier tonight I used an insensitive word during an online race being broadcast on twitch. It was inappropriate slang and a stupid thing to do. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it. There's no excuse for it, and I know I have to do better for my sponsors and my fans.— Hailie Deegan (@HailieDeegan) January 11, 2021
As of this writing, it is unclear if Deegan will face punishment for her actions.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time a NASCAR driver was caught saying something inappropriate during a virtual race.
In April, half-Japanese driver Kyle Larson was heard saying the N-word during an iRacing event.
Though he was fired by his team, suspended by NASCAR, and dropped by several of his sponsors, he was later reinstated after he spent six months immersed in diversity programs.
Under the terms of his reinstatement, Larson will continue to take training and engagement classes through 2023.