Kyle Larson has officially applied for NASCAR reinstatement, Autoweek reports, after announcing intentions for a comeback in August.
The Japanese American sports driver and six-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series was suspended April 13 for saying a racial slur during a virtual racing event, and was dropped by Chip Ganassi Racing, according to a NASCAR release. Officials announced Friday he applied for reinstatement earlier in the same week.
The 28-year-old has since completed NASCAR sensitivity training on May 6, Autoweek reports, along with “other avenues of atonement.”
According to an Instagram post by the Sanneh Foundation, a soccer youth organization founded by retired soccer player Tony Sanneh, Larson recently visited the George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis with some of their staff and volunteered in their food drive.
“I know deep down I am not a racist,” Larson told CBS in a recent interview. “I said a racist word and I can fully understand why people would label me a racist.”
In addition, Larson published an Oct. 4 personal essay on his own website, stating he learned his lesson since April. He said he knew very little about the Black experience and history of racism in the United States.
In the essay, Larson wrote that he had apologized to his acquaintances he had disappointed and had hard conversations with Black athletes, including with a Black crew member who had been in his NASCAR team for years.
Larson also brought up his background as a half-Japanese person, stating his parents received disapproving looks as an interracial couple and that his grandparents were held in the internment camps during WWII.
Larson said he understands losing his job was how he came to acknowledge his racist rhetoric, and hopes he has the chance to atone.
“I want them to know that words do matter,” Larson wrote regarding his young children. “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.”
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