Japanese American Kyle Larson won the Pennzoil 400 in his first victory since his return to NASCAR after his suspension and subsequent firing for using the n-word slur during a live stream last year, ESPN reports. He was reinstated in the fall of 2020, and his victory earlier this week came as a surprise.
Larson had been unsure whether he would ever be able to compete again, but Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports took a chance on him, paying for Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet himself. Despite his confidence in Larson, Harson was still pleasantly surprised by his charge’s win so soon after his return.
“I didn’t really expect it to come this quick because I really thought it would take time to jell,” Hendrick said, according to ESPN. “He’s a champion, really, and I am so lucky to have him.”
One of the first competitors to congratulate Larson at the end of the race was Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver at the NASCAR Cup level.
“It meant a lot for Bubba to come to victory lane,” Larson said, according to ESPN. “He’s always believed in me. That was special.”
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