Kyle Larson Aims For NASCAR Return After Personal Growth
Suspended NASCAR driver Kyle Larson is eyeing a return to the Cup Series as soon as possible, and he is hoping that some personal growth and outreach can expedite his comeback. Larson was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR and fired by Chip Ganassi Racing in April after being caught using a racial slur during an exhibition iRacing event. He has spent the rest of the year racing largely in the World of Outlaws sprint car series, where he has impressed and been on several extended win streaks. Larson deactivated his social media after the incident, but he has also been working quietly with diversity groups, toured the George Floyd memorial area in Minneapolis and has been working to make amends overall with the African American community. That includes the Philadelphia-based Urban Youth Racing School, which Anthony Martin founded. Martin has become a confidante of Larson, as the two have worked together for three years. NASCAR has been doing some work with the school for years but is now working on expanding that, Martin confirmed, and several industry people were in Philadelphia two weeks ago for a meeting on this, including NASCAR President Steve Phelps, Larson and GM/Chevrolet exec Jim Campbell, sources said. Larson’s work with the school pre-dates the slur incident, but Larson has since worked to make amends with people in the program, specifically a rising driver named Jysir Fisher, and Martin is helping educate Larson on African American history.
HOPING TO RETURN SOON: Larson and his agent Rod Moskowitz have largely shied away from publicly discussing when he could try to return to NASCAR, aside from an interview Larson gave to the AP in August. However, Martin told THE DAILY: “Kyle wants to get back as soon as he can. ... At this point right now, he has not been reinstated as of yet, but his ultimate goal I’m sure is to get back in the series as soon as he can.” Larson has mainly been linked in recent weeks with Hendrick Motorsports, which has a driver opening to fill after this season because Jimmie Johnson is retiring. However, a deal of this nature, involving a driver coming back from a controversy, would be very complex to set up -- and Hendrick has yet to make an announcement on its future.
NASCAR EXPANDS DIVERSITY EFFORTS: NASCAR and Chevy both declined comment on the meeting in Philadelphia, but Martin said that he is working with NASCAR and other partners on expanding the Urban Youth Racing School’s diversity program into other cities beyond Philadelphia, specifically singling out St. Louis as a target. The school for years has had ties to several drivers beyond Larson, including Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The move by NASCAR to expand its work with the school comes as it works on several new diversity initiatives after its involvement with America’s social justice movement this summer. Martin said he also is working with NASCAR to secure expanded internship opportunities. Martin, whose program has helped more than 7,000 kids, said, “Right now, we’re looking to work together to help increase African American awareness of NASCAR and be more involved in NASCAR and racing.”