NASCAR driver Kyle Larson can now rejoin the organization six months after he was suspended for using a racial slur during a livestream.
The 28-year-old racer was cleared to return to the circuit for the 2021 season on Monday, NASCAR announced in a statement. Larson applied for reinstatement just last week, ESPN noted.
In April, Larson was recorded saying the N-word while participating in a virtual race being watched by viewers on Twitch — a popular streaming platform for video games — as well as NASCAR's esports website. He was subsequently suspended, fired from Chip Ganassi Racing, and told to attend sensitivity training, which he reflected on in an apology letter published earlier this month.
"Since April, I’ve done a lot of reflecting. I realized how little I really knew about the African American experience in this country and racism in general," Larson explained on his website. "Educating myself is something I should’ve done a long time ago, because it would’ve made me a better person – the kind of person who doesn’t casually throw around an awful, racist word."
"The kind who makes an effort to understand the hate and oppression it symbolizes and the depth of pain it has caused Black people throughout history and still to this day," he added. "It was past time for me to shut up, listen and learn."
Larson's apology earned the praise of Bubba Wallace — the only Black driver in NASCAR's Cup Series — who said he was "proud" of his racing rival for the work he's put in since the controversy.
In their statement, NASCAR said Larson will participate in "several" speaking engagements through 2023 to share his experience. He will also continue to take training and engagement classes while serving as a mentor with the Urban Youth Racing School (UYRS) and Rev Racing.
"NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport," the statement reads. "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," they said. "Under the terms of his reinstatement, he will be cleared to return to all NASCAR racing activities effective January 1, 2021.”
According to NASCAR, Larson has competed in several sprint-car competitions during his suspension and earned 12 victories in the World of Outlaws tour.
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