It’s been a bumpy ride for NASCAR driver Kyler Larson. In Apr. 2020, the organization suspended Larson after using a racial slur during a virtual racing event. NASCAR allowed Larson to come back and compete in the 2021 season. Larson clinched his first win since his hiatus during the Pennzoil 400 on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
While many assumed there would be bad blood between Larson and Bubba Wallace— one of the few African American drivers in NASCAR— he was the first person to offer him praise over the win. “It meant a lot to have Bubba come to Victory Lane,” Larson said. “He always does a really good job of congratulating the winners,” Larson said after the race.
Bubba Wallace Reaches Out to Kyle Larson Following First Win Since Hiatus
“Yeah, I saw him waiting to say ‘Hi,’ or whatever to me. So I ran over there and just had a quick moment with him. He said, ‘Congrats,’ and, you know, he’s always believed in me, so that was special.
Larson continued by adding: “It was really cool to have him come by and take time out of his post-race where he could be on his way to the airport to go home. But for him to come over was really cool. I hope they can start getting better luck with that race team and have some good runs like they deserve.”
After last year’s controversy, Larson made sure to reach out to Wallace regarding the slur. “There is no place for that word in this world,” Wallace said. “I am not mad at him, and I believe that he, along with most people, deserve second chances and deserve space to improve.”
During Larson’s suspension, he used the time for reflection on his mistake and took steps to educate himself about the black experience in America.
In addition to Wallace, runner-up Brad Keselowski also congratulated Larson after his win. “I think everybody loves a good redemption story,” Keselowski said about Larson. “He’s fought really hard for his opportunity to come back and (is) making the most of it. I’m happy for him. I think I told him that, just happy for him.”