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Justin Botelho survives ‘Monza Madness’, Kyle Larson in trouble for racially insensitive remark

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Justin Botelho celebrates at Monza. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

THE VIRTUAL MONZA, Italy – The brainchild of Landon Cassill and Garrett Smithley, Monza Madness was exactly that, with 62 drivers from different racing disciplines competing on iRacing’s version of the historic oval portion of the virtual Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

Justin Botelho, an invited iRacing regular and Twitch streamer, was victorious in the event, surviving the “madness” and avoiding most of the calamity en route to victory.

Botelho held off NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Tommy Joe Martins and eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series competitor Casey Kirwan for the win, as well as 59 other drivers from disciplines such as NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA, IMSA, iRacing, and more.

“I cannot believe it,” Botelho said to Podium eSports in the post-race interview. “I was shaking on that last lap. I cannot express my emotions right now. I am so excited and that was a hell of a race. It’s awesome.”

Part of the storyline included the return of Allen Bestwick to the Auto Racing commentary booth, albeit virtually, as he announced alongside MRN’s Alex Hayden, Podium eSports’ James Pike, and SPEED SPORT’s Jacob Seelman, live on eNASCAR.com, as well as the Twitch channels of Podium eSports and Landon Cassill.

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Landon Cassill, along with Garrett Smithley, organized the Monza Madness event, and brought sponsorship from Blue Emu. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Botelho led the most laps, 13, of the 30 lap melee. He started deep in the field, all the way back in 53rd starting spot, but managed to pick his way through the mayhem to take the victory.

Cautions and damage were turned off, so as massive pileups occurred, many drivers would drive full speed into the carnage, hoping to pull off their best Cole Trickle / Days of Thunder impression to gain as many spots as possible.

Adam Gilliland, former eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series competitor and current iRacing Road-To-Pro Series hopeful, started on the pole position for the 62-car free-for-all.

Gilliland never got to lead a lap, as Chase Cabre, of the ARCA Menards Series, took over to lead the first lap.

Cabre, along with Jason Lofing, Robbie Lyons, and Timmy Hill, all took turns leading before Martins took over as pit stops begun.

Martins led five laps before coming in for his required pit stop, and as he reentered the racing surface, Botelho took control, and held on the rest of the way to win the event.

***

Besides the main broadcast, many participants in the show opted to live-stream their point-of-view via Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook.

This was not a good thing for one participant, who under the assumption that he was privately talking with a teammate, blurted out a racial slur that was broadcasted to the entire world. The world was listening.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, uttered a racially insensitive word over the open chat, and many took notice.

The incident was shared over social media, and it spread like a wildfire.

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Kyle Larson crashes during Monza Madness on April 12th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

On Monday morning, the fallout began for the 27-year-old NASCAR star.

First, his team, Chip Ganassi Racing, suspended Larson indefinitely without pay.

“We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event,” the CGR statement said. “The words that he chose to use are offensive and unacceptable. As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.”

Next, NASCAR issued a statement, also suspending Larson indefinitely. Larson will be required to attend sensitivity training before reinstatement.

“NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event. Our Member Conduct Guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will enforce these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for our entire industry and fan base.”

After the NASCAR statement, Larson posted an apology to his Twitter page.

“Hey, I just want to say I’m sorry,” Larson expressed via video to his Twitter followers. “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.”

iRacing, one of Larson’s sponsors for his dirt racing program, and the simulation service in which the incident took place, also suspended him from their service indefinitely.

“iRacing considers itself to be a welcome and inclusive community for racing enthusiasts all around the world,” the iRacing statement read. “We have strict policies against offensive behavior and language. Kyle Larson’s language last night during a streamed online race was both offensive and inappropriate, and in violation of our sporting code. As such, Kyle Larson has been suspended indefinitely from the iRacing service.”

One of Larson’s primary NASCAR sponsors, Credit One Bank, issued a statement in support of the suspensions.

“Credit One Bank denounces the highly offensive language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event,” a statement from the bank said. “We support the quick actions taken by NASCAR and the Chip Ganassi Racing Team to suspend Kyle indefinitely.”

Later in the day, Credit One Bank terminated their sponsorship with Larson, specifically.

Larson was expected to be a part of the upcoming eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event at Richmond this upcoming Sunday afternoon, but due to the suspensions, would seem to be unlikely to compete.

Larson also owns a team in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, fielding the No. 1 McDonalds entry for Steve Sheehan and No. 42 Credit One Bank entry for Bob Bryant. No word yet if this will have any affect on his Coca-Cola series efforts.

***

It’s a big sim week ahead for the folks at Richmond Raceway.

The next eNASCAR event goes off on Tuesday night, when the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series hits up Richmond Raceway. The race is scheduled to start at 9:00 pm ET on eNASCAR.com.

On Wednesday, the qualifier for the second installment of the eTruck Rumble, hosted by Ryan Vargas, will take place, also at Richmond. Hundreds of hopefuls will race to be one of 20 entries into the 43 truck main event which will take place on Thursday night, live on the Podium eSports Twitch, as well as Speed51.com.

Finally, the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series will cap off the Richmond week with the NASCAR stars on FOX and FS1 on Sunday afternoon.

SOURCES:

Podium eSports
NASCAR
Chip Ganassi Racing
iRacing
Kyle Larson
Credit One Bank

MONZA MADNESS RESULTS:

  1. Justin Botelho
  2. Tommy Joe Martins
  3. Casey Kirwan
  4. Ray Alfalla
  5. Chase Cabre
  6. Landon Cassill
  7. Bayley Currey
  8. Timmy Hill
  9. Adam Gilliland
  10. Garrett Smithley
  11. Jason Lofing
  12. Tyler Reddick
  13. Robbie Lyons
  14. Parker Kligerman
  15. Aron MacEachern
  16. Ross Chastain
  17. Colton Herta
  18. Ryan Vargas
  19. Kurt Busch
  20. Stefan Wilson
  21. Dylan Goodin
  22. Corey LaJoie
  23. Anthony Alfredo
  24. Denny Hamlin
  25. Kevin Swindell
  26. Cody Ware
  27. Jordan Taylor
  28. Ryan Ellis
  29. Jagger Jones
  30. Josef Newgarden
  31. James Schofield
  32. Kevin Hamlin
  33. Rodney Childers
  34. Justin Allgaier
  35. Myatt Snider
  36. Kyle Putz
  37. Tony Kanaan
  38. Josh Bilicki
  39. Dalton Kellett
  40. Kyle Weatherman
  41. Will Rodgers
  42. Johnathan Caddell
  43. Conor Daly
  44. Branden Williams
  45. Tim Clark III
  46. Joey Gase
  47. Logan Seavey
  48. Nelson Piquet
  49. Christopher Wheeler
  50. Danny Lehmkuhl
  51. Bobby Labonte
  52. Ron Capps
  53. Spencer Boyd
  54. Patricio O’Ward
  55. Matt DiBenedetto
  56. Logan Clampitt
  57. Oliver Askew
  58. Justin Haley
  59. James Hinchcliffe
  60. Kyle Larson
  61. Max Papis
  62. Ryan Truex

Photo Album (all pictures by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com):

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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