Kyle Larson has been reinstated by NASCAR. On Monday afternoon, the sanctioning body announced the suspended driver has completed the requirements for reinstatement and may return to action starting 1 January 2021.
“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.”
Larson was indefinitely suspended in April after using the N-word during an iRacing stream, resulting in the loss of sponsors and his ride at Chip Ganassi Racing. While he continued racing on dirt, he also underwent sensitivity training and other racial inclusiveness missions during the summer.
Although most of his efforts went without much publicity outside of an interview with the Associated Press in August, he returned to the spotlight in early October when he published an essay on his website, followed by speaking with CBS This Morning on Friday ahead of his request for reinstatement. In the latter, he noted that he understood “people who might not know me […] might not believe (that I have changed) or think I’m just checking the box. I feel like I’ve definitely grown more in these last six months than I have in the 28 years I’ve been alive.”
As part of his conditions for reinstatement, he will work as a public speaker and continue taking training courses through 2023. The former Drive for Diversity member will also remain involved in the Urban Youth Racing School, where he visited in the summer, and Rev Racing, an ARCA Menards Series East team that is partnered with the D4D to provide rides for minority and female drivers.
At the time of his suspension, Larson was seventh in points after four races. From 2014 to 2020, he scored six Cup victories, 101 top-ten finishes, and a best points placement of sixth in 2019.
His 2021 plans were not immediately revealed, but many have rumoured that he will take over the fourth Hendrick Motorsports car, which Alex Bowman will vacate after 2020 as he moves to the team’s #48. Although currently the #88, the number has more of a connection with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and former sponsor Nationwide Insurance, with fans speculating the car will either become the #5 (the team’s first number last used in 2017), #25 (a former Hendrick number), or #57 (Larson’s dirt track number that was formerly used by Hendrick in what is now the Xfinity Series). Another possibility the #32 of Go Fas Racing, which has an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing while driver Corey LaJoie departs; SHR co-owner Tony Stewart, also a dirt racer, has long supported Larson receiving another chance in NASCAR.