When NASCAR was shut down along with all other events involving large crowds in March as a measure to try and curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus, several of the drivers turned to iRacing events that became very popular for racing fans.
During one of these iRacing events in April, then Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson uttered a derogatory racial slur toward his spotter in an exchange during the race.
As a result of his remarks, NASCAR immediately suspended Larson for his actions; two days later after threats from sponsors to leave the team, Chip Ganassi fired Larson as the driver of the number 42 car.
Since leaving NASCAR, Larson has been racing in the World of Outlaws where he has won over half of the races he has entered – 24 out of 46.
Speaking on his reprehensible behaviour; Larson said, “I was just ignorant. And immature. I didn’t understand the negativity and hurt that comes with that word. That’s not a word that I had ever used. I grew up in Northern California, all I ever did was race and that’s all I was focused on. There’s probably a lot of real-life experiences I didn’t get to have and I was just ignorant to how hurtful that word is.”
At the time of his suspension, NASCAR informed Larson that in order to return to NASCAR he must undergo sensitivity training and file an official request for reinstatement.
While NASCAR has confirmed that Larson has officially filed for reinstatement, officials say that the request is currently under “review”.
NASCAR Hall of Fame member and Stewart-Haas co-owner Tony Stewart believes that it is time that NASCAR reinstate Kyle Larson; saying, “Kyle has done everything NASCAR has asked him to do. I think there are a lot of things besides what NASCAR has asked him to do that he’s done on his own to try to make this right and to try to do the right thing. Ultimately, NASCAR has to be comfortable with that. It’s going to be their decision if and when he comes back.”
Going beyond the requirements ordered by NASCAR for reinstatement, Larson volunteered at a foundation created by Tony Sanneh in Minneapolis. And in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Larson returned to Minneapolis touring the site of Floyd’s death and subsequent protests. “I never really realized how privileged I was in the way I grew up,” Larson said. “I never had to really worry about anything and I guess I was naive. I didn’t have a full understanding that there are people struggling with different things on a daily basis. It was very impactful, very moving.”
Larson also connected with Olympic track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee in East St. Louis and works with the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia.