NASCAR driver Kyle Larson reinstated after suspension for using N-word

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson is reinstated after a suspension was issued this spring when he used a racial slur during a virtual race.

Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, stands by his car during practice for NASCAR Cup Series Penzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on February 21, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
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In April, NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was suspended after using the N-word during a virtual race. Now, the association has decided to reinstate his driver privileges.

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theGrio reported the 27-year-old professional driver was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing and suspended indefinitely from NASCAR after saying the N-word while competing in an eNASCAR iRacing Pro.

“As we’ve said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take,” Ganassi said, according to the report.

Larson issued an apology from his now-deleted Twitter account.

“I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said and there’s no excuse for that.”

In a big step for the predominantly white organization, NASCAR banned Confederate flags from any venue there is a sanctioned race this summer. Driver Bubba Wallace, who is biracial, openly supported Black Lives Matter after the killing of George Floyd. For his efforts, a noose was then found hanging in his garage stall before a race. Though some fans at first doubted his story, saying it was a rope pull used to open garage doors, a photo circulated by NASCAR showed it appeared to be a newly hung noose.

NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500
Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet, wears a “I Can’t Breathee – Black Lives Matter” t-shirt under his fire suit in solidarity with protesters around the world taking to the streets after the death of George Floyd on May 25, speaks to the media prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on June 10, 2020 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Larson’s suspension highlighted the seriousness of NASCAR’s newfound racial sensitivity and its expectation that its drivers follow along.

Larson can begin racing again early next year.

“NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport,” the sanctioning body said in an official statement.

“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.”

Before his reinstatement was made official, Larson gave an interview with CBS This Morning where he expressed his desire for a second chance.

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

He also released a personal essay titled My Lessons Learned in an effort to again apologize and take accountability for his behavior.

“The first lesson: The N-word is not mine to use. It cannot be part of my vocabulary. The history of the word is connected to slavery, injustice and trauma that is deep and has gone on for far too long. I truly didn’t say the word with the intention of degrading or demeaning another person, but my ignorance ended up insulting an entire community of people who, in the year 2020, still have to fight for justice and equality. When I look back at these last few months and see all the protests and unrest in our country, and the pain Black people are going through, it hurts to know that what I said contributed to that pain,” he wrote.

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The essay detailed his hiring of a diversity coach, Doug Harris, his volunteer work, a visit to the Floyd memorial in Minneapolis, and connecting with Black athletes about the Black experience.

“I spoke with Olympic legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee and toured her community center in St. Louis. I’ve had conversations with Black athletes like Harold Varner III, race car drivers like Bubba Wallace, J.R. Todd, and Willy T. Ribbs, and corporate executives like Kevin Liles (formerly of Def Jam) and Perry Stuckey (of Eastman). We didn’t just talk about the Black experience – we discussed the importance of having empathy and considering the struggles of people who don’t look like me.”

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