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NASCAR driver Kyle Larson cleared to return after using N-word during virtual race

"Words do matter. Apologizing for your mistakes matters. Accountability matters. Forgiveness matters," he said.
Image: Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, climbs into his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas on Oct. 18, 2019.Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images file

NASCAR has cleared the way for Kyle Larson to return, lifting a suspension Monday imposed after the budding superstar used a racial slur during an April virtual racing event.

Larson fulfilled the requirements set by the racing body "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," NASCAR said Monday.

Larson is cleared to return effective Jan. 1.

Chip Ganassi Racing fired Larson after the incident, which happened during an esport event.

In a statement addressing the lifting of his indefinite suspension, Larson, 28, thanked NASCAR and said he was looking ahead.

"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," he said, NBC Sports reported.

He has also apologized, and in October wrote about the experience and lessons he learned on his website and said he was rightly suspended and fired.

Larson wrote that he used the word before an online race in what he thought was a private channel. He said that the slur was used casually when he was around a group on an overseas trip and that "I was ignorant enough to think it was OK" — but he also wrote that was no excuse.

"The first lesson: The N-word is not mine to use. It cannot be part of my vocabulary. The history of the word is connected to slavery, injustice and trauma that is deep and has gone on for far too long," Larson wrote.

He recounted the bias his parents faced as an interracial couple.

"My parents are an interracial couple who have gotten disapproving stares and been made to feel uncomfortable just for being together. And all of a sudden, they were being asked why their 27-year-old Asian-American son said something racist. My maternal grandparents were held in an internment camp during World War II. There’s absolutely no excuse for my ignorance."

He also wrote that he realized how little he knew about the Black experience in the United States and racism in general.

"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," he wrote.

He also wrote that "for far too long, I was a part of a problem that’s much larger than me" and that one day his young children will one day learn about what he said.

"I want them to know that words do matter. Apologizing for your mistakes matters. Accountability matters. Forgiveness matters. Treating others with respect matters. I will not stop listening and learning, but for me now, it’s about action — doing the right things, being a part of the solution and writing a new chapter that my children will be proud to read," Larson wrote.