Kyle Larson wants people to know that while he said a racist word, he does not feel that he’s a racist.
Larson appeared “CBS This Morning” on Friday to talk about what has happened in the months since he was fired from Chip Ganassi Racing after saying the N-word during a virtual race that was broadcast on NASCAR’s website.
“I know deep down I’m not a racist,” Larson told James Brown, though he said that he could understand why people would have labeled him one after he said the racial slur.
It was the first time Larson has done a television interview since he was fired in April. He published an open apology letter earlier in the month to his website explaining his personal work and growth in the last six months.
Larson was fired after sponsors Credit One and McDonalds had disassociated themselves from him in the days after he used the slur. He was competing in the virtual race on the night of Easter because NASCAR wasn’t holding events at the time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Larson’s apologies come as he could return to NASCAR as soon as the 2021 season. Larson was also suspended indefinitely by the sanctioning body when he was fired from Chip Ganassi Racing, though he’s completed the required sensitivity training for reinstatement and reapplied for that reinstatement this week according to multiple reports.
The 28-year-old has publicly expressed interest in a NASCAR return and Hendrick Motorsports is looking for another driver for the 2021 season. Larson has been linked to that opening despite Chevrolet terminating its personal services deal with him in the wake of his slur usage.
“I understand people who might not know me, they might not believe it or think I’m just checking the box,” Larson said of the things he’s done to try to learn from his N-word usage. “And I feel like I’ve definitely grown more in these last six months than I have in the 28 years I’ve been alive.”
Before his firing, Larson was set to be one of the most coveted free agents in NASCAR. He’s won six times in 223 starts and had made the playoffs in four straight seasons before 2020. And it would have undoubtedly been five straight had he not been fired four races into the season.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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