by Molly Prince
A sponsor announced on Friday that it has ended its partnership with NASCAR driver Conor Daly after it was reported that his father used racially insensitive language during an interview in the early 1980s.
Lilly Diabetes pulled its sponsorship from Conor’s No. 6 car in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race, citing his father’s alleged use of the N-word 35 years ago, reported Fox News.
Derek Daly, a retired Indy 500 and Formula One driver, was fired days earlier from his role as WISH-TV’s Racing Analyst due to the controversy.
In a statement, the elder Daly admitted to using the word, but denied its connotation.
“I was a foreign driver now in America, driving for an American team, with an American crew, and with an American sponsor – and that if things did not go well, the only ‘”n” in the wood pile’ would be me,” Derek Daly wrote, saying that the expression was common in his native Ireland and didn’t carry the same racist connotation.
He added that he was “mortified” after he was informed of the derogatory nature of the word and has not used the word since.
“Unfortunately, the comments that surfaced this week by Derek Daly distract from this focus, so we have made the decision that Lilly Diabetes will no longer run the No. 6 at Road America this weekend,” Lilly said in a statement.
Lilly originally partnered with Conor to raise awareness for people living with diabetes. Conor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 14 years old.
“The last 24 [hours] have been quite an unnecessarily difficult ride for my family. There is A LOT I want to say … but I’m still here and still racing,” Daly tweeted. “I appreciate the support from [Roush Fenway Racing] and ALL of you. [Lilly Diabetes] has been a big part of my career and Im very thankful. #6.”
The last 24hrs have been quite an unnecessarily difficult ride for my family. There is A LOT I want to say… but I’m still here and still racing. I appreciate the support from @roushfenway and ALL of you. @LillyDiabetes has been a big part of my career and Im very thankful. #6
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) August 24, 2018
Conor primarily races for IndyCar and Saturday’s race at Road America is set to be his NASCAR debut.
NASCAR did not immediately respond for a request to comment.
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Molly Prince is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Molly on Twitter @mollyfprince.