There had been a misconception throughout social media that Chevrolet banned Kyle Larson from NASCAR competition for life. That is obviously not true.
Amid rumors, which have since been confirmed, that former Chip Ganassi Racing NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson will be returning to the Cup Series for the 2021 season with Hendrick Motorsports, there had been ongoing rumors and comments that this deal could never happen because it would involve Larson having a relationship with Chevrolet.
Chevrolet cut ties with Larson back in April after Larson, who drove the #42 Chevrolet from 2014 until earlier this year, was heard using a racial slur during a virtual NASCAR race on iRacing which was being live streamed on multiple Twitch channels.
This, coupled with several other sponsors cutting ties with the 28-year-old Elk Grove, California native, effectively forced Chip Ganassi Racing to fire him and replace him with 2003 champion Matt Kenseth behind the wheel of the #42 Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Ross Chastain has been confirmed as the driver of this car beginning next year.
But despite common belief, Chevrolet never banned Larson from competing for one of its Cup Series teams. Here is what Chevrolet said in a statement after Larson used the slur.
“Chevrolet has suspended its relationship with Kyle Larson indefinitely, as we do not tolerate this behavior. We will continue to monitor the events surrounding Mr. Larson & are prepared to take additional action.”
Now Larson is indeed set to return to the Cup Series in 2021 — and with the four-car Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports, no less.
What many talks about Larson and Chevrolet are leaving out is the fact that Chevrolet simply suspended him indefinitely, just as NASCAR did.
A simple Google search of “Chevrolet bans Kyle Larson” turns up quite a few results highlighting this indefinite suspension.
If this meant a lifetime ban, then we wouldn’t even be talking about him returning to NASCAR at all since NASCAR also suspended him indefinitely.
And now he has applied for reinstatement and been reinstated, effective Friday, January 1, 2021, and is set to begin competing for Rick Hendrick’s team once the 2021 season.
That may come as a shock to some due to misleading information about Chevrolet, but it was always in play.
Of course, there was never any kind of 100% guarantee of a rekindled relationship with Chevrolet; the manufacturer could have technically still said no to all future deals involving Larson, irrespective of the team or series, because of his mistake.
But that door was not closed, and nearly six months on from his mistake, it has never been completely shut, as evidenced by the fact that he is set to drive the #5 Chevrolet next year.
Here is what a Chevrolet spokesperson had to say about Larson following his reinstatement, according to CBS Sports.
“Chevrolet fully supports NASCAR’s efforts to provide an inclusive environment for all race fans. Since Kyle Larson has met the criteria set forth for his return to the series, we support NASCAR’s decision.”
That was verified with his ensuing Hendrick deal.