NASCAR Cup Series: Today is a big day for Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /

Kyle Larson is officially eligible to return to NASCAR Cup Series competition, and he is slated to do so next month at Daytona International Speedway.

A total of 264 days after using the N-word during a virtual race on iRacing which was being live streamed on multiple Twitch channels, Kyle Larson has been reinstated by NASCAR and is officially eligible to return to Cup Series competition.

The 28-year-old Elk Grove, California native has not competed in a race since the 36-race 2020 season’s fourth race at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 8.

On Sunday, April 12, his racial slur spread like wildfire and ultimately led to indefinite suspensions from both Chip Ganassi Racing and NASCAR the following day. But after multiple sponsors cut ties with Larson over his use of this six-letter word, Chip Ganassi’s hand was practically forced, and on Tuesday, April 14, Larson was fired.

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After several months of personal growth and education, Larson applied for reinstatement from NASCAR. He did not have a ride lined up at that point, but he was able to be in communication with teams about 2021 despite having been indefinitely suspended, and it was obvious that he was.

The six-time Cup Series race winner technically could have applied for reinstatement a lot sooner, given the fact that he completed the required sensitivity training soon after he was suspended, but he opted to focus more on what he believed mattered most in the months that followed.

Shortly after Larson finally applied for reinstatement, his request was approved, but it was announced that he would not officially be reinstated until Friday, January 1, 2021.

At this point, that date didn’t matter much, given the fact that it was obvious that Larson wouldn’t be competing at all throughout the remainder of the 2020 season anyway and the 2021 season isn’t scheduled to start until February.

One of the key reasons why Larson’s reinstatement announcement came over two months before his official reinstatement date was so that potential sponsors would know for sure that he would be allowed by NASCAR to compete if a deal were to be reached.

In the meantime, confirming the speculation and rumors, Larson officially signed with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the #5 Chevrolet, which hasn’t been used since Kasey Kahne drove it in 2017.

With Jimmie Johnson having retired after the 2020 season and Alex Bowman set to move from the #88 Chevrolet to replace him behind the wheel of the #48 Chevrolet, the #88 Chevrolet was renumbered to #5 for Larson.

Now Friday, January 1, 2021 has arrived, and Larson has officially been reinstated. Happy New Year.

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The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled to begin on Sunday, February 14 with the 63rd annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Fox is set to broadcast the race live beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.