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Hamlin on Monday tweeted an old clip from the cartoon “Family Guy” that mocks Asian drivers in an attempt to criticize Kyle Larson. Larson caused a last lap crash in the Geico 500 that ruined the races of Kyle Busch and Bubba Wallace, who both drive for Hamlin’s 23XI Racing team. The scene had previously been removed from reruns of the show, but is available on various internet platforms. Larson is of Japanese descent.
Hamlin deleted the tweet several hours later and posted an apology to Twitter.
“I took down a post I made earlier today after reading some of the comments,” he wrote. “It was a poor choice of memes and I saw how it was offensive. It came across totally wrong,” he wrote.
NASCAR’s regulations expressly prohibit drivers from making disparaging remarks about the race of others. No other sanctions were levied against Hamlin.
Both Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing use Toyota cars and the automaker said it backs NASCAR’s decision.
“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,” Toyota said.
Hamlin and Larson are close off-track friends and Larson has not publicly commented on the incident.
Larson was suspended from NASCAR during the 2020 season for using a racial slur during an online virtual race and also had to complete sensitivity training before returning to the Cup Series.