Larson takes positive strides towards return to NASCAR

Larson takes positive strides towards return to NASCAR
Dave Biro/DB3Inc

Kyle Larson is on the road to NASCAR reinstatement.

A NASCAR spokesperson confirmed Friday that Larson has requested to be reinstated and has already started the process. He has engaged in discussions with the sanctioning body on what additional sensitivity training would be required before he can return to the fold. 

The sanctioning body suspended Larson indefinitely after he used a racial slur while competing during an iRacing event on April 12. He subsequently lost his ride with Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson has most recently been rumored as the lead candidate for the open Cup seat at Hendrick Motorsports.

During his suspension from NASCAR, Larson has not been idle. The 28-year-old Elk Grove, Californian is batting .500 in open-wheel racing since the season began. Larson has won 41 of the 81 events entered, ranging from World of Outlaws and All Star sprint cars to a variety of divisions in USAC and dirt late models. 

Larson’s winning ways in open wheel began last November and peaked with his first Chili Bowl Nationals title in January. He was considered a top free agent entering the 2020 season despite winning just six races in 223 starts over the last seven seasons.

On Oct. 4, Larson released a heartfelt mea culpa for his past discretion. Friday, he was interviewed by special correspondent James Brown for CBS This Morning and spoke candidly about picking up the N-word during a trip to Australia in the post-season.

"I know deep down I'm not a racist,” Larson said. “I said a racist word. And I can fully understand why people would label me a racist.

"I know it's not my word to use. I need to get it out of my vocabulary, and I have.” 

The Harvard-educated Brown asked Larson what the N-word meant to him prior to his NASCAR expulsion and what it means to him now.

“I didn’t think about how it took African-Americans—and in their thoughts—how it took them back to slavery and things like that and injustices that they had fought so hard to overcome,” Larson said.

Larson addressed his growth since April’s incident and added he would completely understand if there was never another opportunity for him to race in NASCAR. But Larson hopes to prove he deserves a second chance. 

“I understand that people who might not know me, they might not believe it or might think I’m just checking the box,” Larson said. "I feel like I’ve definitely grown in the last six months than in the whole 28 years I’ve been alive.

“What I said was extremely hurtful, and I would understand if I was never allowed to race another NASCAR race again. But I hope I will get that opportunity to race with them. With that platform, I think I could do good things.”

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