Kyle Larson can return to NASCAR competition next season following a long suspension for using a racial slur while playing a video game. He was suspended in April after he used the n-word while playing an online racing game in which viewers could follow along. He was dropped by his sponsors and fired by Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson, who is half-Japanese, spent the last six months immersed in diversity programs that helped him gain an understanding of racial injustice. He did not apply for reinstatement until last week and the clearance came Monday, reports the AP. “The work I’ve done over the last six months has had a major impact on me. I will make the most of this opportunity and look forward to the future," Larson said.
Larson has spent significant time with retired soccer star Tony Sanneh, whose foundation works on youth development and empowerment in the Minneapolis area. Larson also met with former Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Max Siegel, the CEO of USA Track & Field who also runs a NASCAR-sanctioned team that is part of the stock car series’ diversity program. Larson continued work he’d already been doing with the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia. He put the work in unpublicized in an effort to prove his motives were sincere. Larson has long been considered a future star for NASCAR and presumably had his pick of cars for 2021. He's thought to be getting an open seat at Hendrick Motorsports, though there are hurdles: Hendrick is tied to Chevrolet, one of the brands that cut ties with Larson in April.
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