NASCAR approves Kyle Larson’s reinstatement, effective January 1

Banned for his use of a racial slur during a streamed virtual event, Kyle Larson will be eligible to return to NASCAR on January 1.

NASCAR has approved Kyle Larson’s application for reinstatement. The former Cup Series star will be eligible to partake in NASCAR-sanctioned events beginning January 1, 2021. Larson was previously banned indefinitely for using a racial slur during a live-streamed virtual event on the iRacing platform.

“NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport,” a statement from NASCAR read. “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. Larson’s indefinite suspension has been lifted. Under the terms of his reinstatement, he will be cleared to return to all NASCAR racing activities effective January 1, 2021.”

Larson has begun to speak openly about the April incident that led to his banishment from NASCAR, penning an open letter on his website and speaking with Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press and James Brown of CBS. In that event, Larson tried to get his spotter’s attention by saying “hey, n*****” over his radio. Since the incident, Larson vowed to educate himself on what African-American have dealt with in terms of racism.

“Since April, I’ve done a lot of reflecting. I realized how little I really knew about the African-American experience in this country and racism in general,” Larson wrote in his letter. Educating myself is something I should’ve done a long time ago, because it would’ve made me a better person – the kind of person who doesn’t casually throw around an awful, racist word. The kind who makes an effort to understand the hate and oppression it symbolizes and the depth of pain it has caused Black people throughout history and still to this day. It was past time for me to shut up, listen, and learn.”

Larson will continue with his work at the Urban Youth Racing School a STEM education program based in Philadelphia. Prior to his release, he drove the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, earning six wins over six full-time seasons. Recent rumors have connected Larson to Hendrick Motorsports, which has an opening in their No. 88 Chevrolet. Current driver Alex Bowman is moving to the No. 48, whose seat will be left vacated by the retiring Jimmie Johnson.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags