NASCAR officials confirmed Friday that Kyle Larson applied for reinstatement earlier in the week.
Larson was suspended from NASCAR on Apr. 13 a day after he uttered a racial slur during an online race. Chip Ganassi Racing fired the 28-year-old driver the same day later hiring Matt Kenseth to replace him in the No. 42 Chevrolet.
NASCAR indicated that Larson needed to complete sensitivity training at NASCAR’s direction as a condition for his reinstatement.
Until Friday, Larson made few public statements about his suspension and what caused it. However, he has recently spoken out about the measures he has taken to educate himself about civil-rights issues, first in an interview with the Associated Press on Aug. 19, then in a personal essay published on his website Oct. 4.
“Anger came at me from all angles,” Larson wrote. “Being labeled a racist has hurt the most, but I brought that on myself. What I didn’t expect, though, were all the people who, despite their disappointment in what I did, made the choice to not give up on me. It motivates me to repay their faith by working harder, not giving up on myself, and making sure something positive comes from the harm I caused.”
His first televised interview on the subject came Friday morning on CBS This Morning.
In the interview, Larson says he has “definitely grown” and is working to change.
“I can fully understand why people would label me a racist,” he told CBS News’ James Brown in his first TV interview since the incident. “I know deep down I’m not a racist — I said a racist word.”
“I know it’s not my word to use. So, you know, I need to get it out of my vocabulary, and I have,” Larson said.
Asked if he understood the meaning of the word and what it meant to him, Larson replied, “I guess I didn’t think of how it… took African Americans, probably in their thoughts, took them back to, you know, slavery and things like that and injustice and stuff that they have had to work, you know, so hard to overcome.”
Larson has six wins in the NASCAR Cup Series. During his suspension from NASCAR, he has spent time in sprint-car competition and has been a regular winner in dirt-track events
Driver Ross Chastain has been tapped to take over the No. 42 Chevrolet starting in 2021.