A NASCAR driver has been mandated to attend sensitivity training after one of his Twitter posts was deemed racially insensitive.
Denny Hamlin, a Joe Gibbs Racing Driver, tweeted a clip from the animated comedy “Family Guy” that made a joke about female Asian drivers on April 25. The clip had the name of Hamlin’s competitor, NASCAR Driver Kyle Larson, imposed over the character.
The “Family Guy” video showed an Asian woman moving across six lanes of traffic without signaling or warning other drivers. While the scene still exists on YouTube, it is no longer included in the show on any streaming platform.
Larson, an American of Japanese descent, and Hamlin are close friends.
“Hamlin had been complaining about Larson’s driving in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, where Larson pulled in front of Kurt Busch in the last turn and caused him to crash into the wall and also wreck his 23XI Racing teammate Bubba Wallace. Along with driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Hamlin co-owns the 23XI Racing team with NBA Legend Michael Jordan,” reports Fox News.
Following a negative reaction online, Hamlin deleted the tweet seven hours after he posted it and offered a public apology.
“It was a poor choice of memes and I saw how it was offensive,” Hamline wrote. “It came across totally wrong. I apologize.”
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.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) April 26, 2022
Larsen has not publicly commented on the tweet. The driver was required to complete sensitivity training after being suspended from the NASCAR 2020 season for using a racial slur during a virtual race held online. He subsequently won his first championship in 2021 after returning to the sport.
According to NASCAR’s rulebook, drivers “shall not make or cause to be made a public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition,” per ESPN.
Toyota, Hamlin’s sponsor, announced it supports NASCAR’s reaction to its driver’s post.
“We have spoken with Denny Hamlin regarding his tweet from yesterday. Toyota supports NASCAR’s decision to mandate sensitivity training for Denny and we will all move forward together,” the company said in a statement quoted by NASCAR reporter Bob Pockrass.
The three-time Daytona 500 winner has until the end of the week to begin sensitivity training, according to NASCAR.