Kyle Larson Grateful For Second Chance In NASCAR After Career Imploded For Using A Racial Slur
NASCAR driver Kyle Larson, who was suspended for six months for using the N-word, is grateful for a second chance to get back in the race.
It’s been almost a year since Kyle Larson was suspended from NASCAR and dropped by Chip Ganassi Racing after he used the “N-word” during a livestream race. Now, Larson is making his NASCAR comeback and he’s grateful for the chance. He says the things he has learned in the past year have been life changing.
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) February 10, 2021
Larson’s Experience During Suspension
Larson was suspended for six months for his use of a racial slur. The clip went viral and nearly ever sponsor dropped him. He was 27 years old and basically unemployable.
“I think going through what I did and educating myself as much as I could throughout the last year and meeting different people and trying to … educate myself on the struggles African Americans have gone through, it helps me know I am a good person and just had a bad moment of ignorance and judgment,” Larson said,” according to NASCAR.com.
“And now I think going forward I have to do a good job of showing people who I really am and that what I did was just a horrible mistake,” he added.
During his suspension, Larson focused on racing at the local level as often as possible.
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He also worked with a diversity coach and had difficult discussions with members of the African American community across the country.
This all had a major impact on him, and Larson has said that he takes responsibility for what he did and does not feel sorry for himself.
Larson Signed By Hendrick Motorsports
Once his suspension was lifted, Larson was signed by Hendrick Motorsports to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet with the crew and team of the recently retired, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
“Kyle and I spoke several times after what happened,” team owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick said. “We didn’t talk business. Just checking in.”
“Once I started learning about all the work he was doing behind the scenes and how sincere he was about it, the lightbulb went off that it might be a real possibility (to sign him),” he continued. “It took a lot of time. I wanted to see how he handled the situation and if he would continue making that effort.”
“He did, and we kept talking and the more I saw from him, the more I felt like he was truly taking responsibility and growing as a person. That was key,” Hendrick added.
“I love watching these guys (drivers) grow as people and be successful in their personal and professional lives,” he continued. “I want to see them be winners on and off the track. That’s what we expect of all our drivers and I have zero doubt about Kyle’s ability to deliver.”
Larson Grateful For The Opportunity
Larson could not appreciate this opportunity more. Not too long ago, he was wondering if he’d ever have another chance in NASCAR’s premier series.
“It wasn’t that I had given up on it, but maybe lost a little hope and I was accepting of it because I knew the magnitude of my mistake,” Larson said. “Then out of nowhere, I was able to start having conversations with (Hendrick Motorsports).”
“Mr. H is obviously one of the most respected people in the sport,” he added. “For him to reach out and lend support and give me a chance to get back in a Cup car with the best Cup team out there is just so special to me, and I’m very, very thankful for the opportunity. To be around a person who is that well-respected is just going to teach me even more about how to be better.”
“So I’m definitely going to be loyal to Mr. H forever, or as long as me wants me,” he added. “I’m a lucky person and humbled by it.”
Outlook For 2021
Going into 2021, Larson has high expectations for himself both on and off the track.
“I don’t think (redemption) happens overnight and I’m very thankful I have the opportunity with Mr. Hendrick in getting a second chance in NASCAR to kind of have that platform to go out there and show people I am a good person,” Larson said. “But it does take a long time.”
In the end, Larson is just looking forward to whatever comes next.
“I’m happy, maybe as happy as I’ve ever been, because I have a great opportunity and a second chance,” Larson said. “I think I’m a better person than I was a year ago. I’m content with where I’m at in my life.”
“I have a new perspective on a lot of things. I grew more last year than any other year by far, and I think growth is always good as a person, as a race car driver, as a husband,” he concluded. “I’m just ready to now get this new year started and get a fresh start.”
“I feel extremely grateful because, you know, I really never thought I would get another chance to race in NASCAR and I kind of accepted that,” Larson said
We’re so glad to see that Larson seems to be overcoming cancel culture in a way that few people can, and we wish him the best of luck in 2021!