Where Kyle Larson will land next season, if he is able to rejoin the sport at all, has been the subject of much of NASCAR’s Silly Season.
Chip Ganassi Racing fired Larson in April after the 28-year-old used the N-word during an iRacing event on Twitch, ESPN reported. His team’s sponsors quickly pulled their support for Larson, and NASCAR suspended him indefinitely.
He’s been on the sidelines since, but analysts don’t believe he’s finished.
Where could Larson end up in 2021?
Larson won’t be able to return to the No. 42 next season, Beyond The Flag said. Chip Ganassi Racing said Ross Chastain will have the seat in 2021. Matt Kenseth has filled in since the team fired Larson.
Analysts say there are two main options for Larson next year if he is allowed to return. Those are Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. He’ll need to appeal his suspension to NASCAR if he wants to return, however.
Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart said Larson has paid the penalty for his mistake and that NASCAR needs to give him another chance, CBS Sports reported. Stewart-Haas does have a seat open next season after releasing Clint Bowyer after 2020. But it will most likely go to Xfinity Series driver Chase Briscoe, Beyond The Flag said.
Hendrick Motorsports will have a car available next season, also. Seven-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson is set to retire at the end of the 2020 season. Hendrick said Alex Bowman will replace Johnson in the No. 88 car, freeing up Bowman’s No. 48 Chevrolet.
Though Erik Jones, who is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing, has also been mentioned as Bowman’s possible replacement, Beyond the Flag reports. Jones finished third at the Bank of America 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Kyle Larson apologizes for his remark in an essay
Larson has apologized for his remark. He recently penned an essay saying he’d let down his team, his sport, and his family.
“The N-word is not mine to use. It cannot be part of my vocabulary,” Larson wrote. “After I said the N-word, anger came at me from all angles. Being labeled a racist has hurt the most, but I brought that on myself. What I didn’t expect, though, were all the people who, despite their disappointment in what I did, made the choice to not give up on me. It motivates me to repay their faith by working harder, not giving up on myself, and making sure something positive comes from the harm I caused.”
Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR’s top series, tweeted his support for Larson after Larson posted the essay to his website.