NASCAR officially reinstates Larson

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 23: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

NASCAR announced Monday that officials have reinstated Kyle Larson more than six months after his suspension for his use of a racial slur during an iRacing event.

Chip Ganassi Racing fired Larson on April 14, one day after NASCAR barred him indefinitely as part of a behavioral penalty. Larson was mandated to complete sensitivity training at NASCAR’s direction as a condition for reinstatement but will also have continued requirements to fulfill to keep his NASCAR membership current.

“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.”

Those terms for reinstatement include several speaking engagements, each spaced out through 2023, where Larson will share his experiences with NASCAR’s weekly series, e-sports and dirt-racing communities. He will also be required to take further training and engagement classes through 2023, plus continue his work with the Urban Youth Racing School (UYRS) and Rev Racing, providing coaching and mentorship for those initiatives.

Larson applied for reinstatement last week.

Until last 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.”

Greg Engle