Since being suspended for uttering an offensive racial slur on Easter Sunday, Kyle Larson has learned a big lesson…”words matter.” Larson also noted that accountability, apologizing when you are wrong, and respecting other people also matter.
Less than two weeks after Larson was reinstated by NASCAR, the race car driver has been signed to a new contract to drive in the sport’s premiere level. Larson will be allowed to return to NASCAR beginning in January 2021.
Saying, “Kyle is unquestionably one of the most talented race car drivers in the world. He has championship-level ability and will be a significant addition to our on-track program. More importantly, I have full confidence that he understands our expectations and will be a tremendous ambassador for our team, our partners and NASCAR. Kyle and I have had many, many conversations leading up to today’s announcement. I’m confident about what’s in his heart and his desire to be a champion in all aspects of his life and career. Kyle has done important work over the past six months and Hendrick Motorsports is going to support those continued efforts” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick has singed Larson to drive the number five car which will replace the number 88 car.
“The ‘five’ is special to me. It’s the original,” Hendrick said. “I view it as Hendrick Motorsports’ flagship team in a lot of ways. To bring the car back to the race track is meaningful for my family and for many of our team members and fans. We plan to build on its winning history with Kyle and (crew chief) Cliff (Daniels).”
At 28 years of age, Larson will become the oldest member of the HMS drivers; joining Chase Elliott, William Byron, and Alex Bowman.
Hendricksk spoke on his young stable of drivers saying,
“I’m excited about our roster of young talent. We have a team that is built to win races and compete for championships for years to come.”
Larson spoke on joining his new team saying, “Hendrick Motorsports is a championship organization that has set a high bar for performance and for how drivers represent the team and its partner. My goal is to win races, be a great teammate, continue my personal efforts to grow and hold myself to that high standard personally and professionally. Making the absolute most of this platform and the opportunity in front of me is my focus. I know what’s expected of me and what I expect of myself, on and off the track.” Larson added, I can’t put into words how grateful I am for the commitment, the faith and the confidence from him and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports.”
An Asian-American, Larson became the first graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program to race full time in NASCAR Cup.
One of the requirements for his re-instatement was to attend sensitivity training. Larson has gone beyond that requirement and is currently working with the Urban Youth Racing School to help provide a platform for minorites interested in racing. He has also been working with the Sanneh Foundation to help “ advance diversity, equity and community well-being.”
Since coming to the NASCAR Cup in 2014, Larson has made 223 race starts and finished in the top 10 in 101 of those races including six wins.