10/19 21:27 CDT Kyle Larson reinstated to compete in NASCAR in 2021
Kyle Larson reinstated to compete in NASCAR in 2021
By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) --- Kyle Larson can return to NASCAR competition next
season following a long suspension for using a racial slur while playing a
He was suspended in April after he used the n-word while playing an online
racing game in which viewers could follow along. He was dropped by his sponsors
and fired by Chip Ganassi Racing.
Larson, who is half-Japanese, spent the last six months immersed in diversity
programs that helped him gain an understanding of racial injustice. He did not
apply for reinstatement until last week and the clearance came Monday.
"The work I've done over the last six months has had a major impact on me. I
will make the most of this opportunity and look forward to the future," Larson
Larson has spent significant time with retired soccer star Tony Sanneh, whose
foundation works on youth development and empowerment in the Minneapolis area.
Larson also met with former Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee and visited her
foundation in East St. Louis, and also spoke with Max Siegel, the CEO of USA
Track & Field who also runs a NASCAR-sanctioned team that is part of the stock
car series' diversity program.
Larson continued work he'd already been doing with the Urban Youth Racing
School in Philadelphia. The nonprofit helps minorities advance in motorsports
and Jysir Fisher, one of its students, had celebrated with Larson in victory
lane following a win in Delaware last October.
He put the work in unpublicized in an effort to prove his motives were sincere.
"NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport. Kyle
Larson has fulfilled the requirements set by NASCAR and has taken several
voluntary measures to better educate himself so that he can use his platform to
help bridge the divide in our country," NASCAR said in a statement.
Larson also has spent the time away from NASCAR racing sprint cars, his
passion, with a phenomenal success rate. He's won 41 times so far this year and
rebuilt a devout fanbase along the way.
The time at the dirt tracks made for a blissful summer for Larson and his
family, which accompanied him nearly every weekend. His two children were
victory lane fixtures and his wife ran his souvenir challenge.
Despite the enjoyable family time, Larson insisted he wanted to return to
He was considered the top free agent prospect before his firing, which ended
eight seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson has long been considered a
future star for NASCAR and presumably had his pick of cars for 2021.
Instead, he's hoping sponsors will agree to back him for a return to NASCAR.
Larson is thought to be getting an open seat at Hendrick Motorsports, although
the car number and sponsor affiliations are not clear.
Among the hurdles Larson must clear is that Hendrick is tied to Chevrolet, one
of the brands that cut ties with Larson in April. The current opening at
Hendrick is also an entry that relied on heavy sponsorship from Chevy related
partners and products.