Kyle Larson is breaking his silence. The NASCAR driver, who was suspended indefinitely for using a racial slur during a virtual race in April, gave his first television interview since the incident Friday and during the chat, Larson said he wants to come back to the sport.
Larson's use of a slur resulted in him being fired from his racing team and losing sponsors. While talking to "CBS This Morning," the driver discussed what he has learned since the incident and how he plans to carry himself moving forward.
"I know deep down I'm not a racist," he said. "I said a racist word and I can fully understand why people would label me a racist."
For the first time, we're hearing from @NASCAR driver Kyle Larson after he was fired in April for using a racial slur during a virtual racing event.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) October 16, 2020
In his first TV interview, he spoke to @JBsportscaster about race in America and why he's hoping for a second chance. pic.twitter.com/zOXoVTU8J8
During the virtual race, Larson was having headset issues and called out to his spotter, "…you can't hear me at all…?" followed by using the racial slur to get the spotter's attention.
"I had raced with him in Australia and the group that we were with kinda used the word casually as a greeting. I didn't use it as a way to degrade or insult anyone," Larson told "CBS This Morning."
Larson admits that back in April, he did not think enough about what the word means to others and how it could impact people.
"I guess I didn't think of how it took African Americans and ... took them back to slavery and things like that, and injustice and stuff they've had to work so hard to overcome," he said.
Larson hopes he gets the chance to return to NASCAR, but added that he understands if he is never welcomed back to the sport.
"What I said was extremely hurtful and I would fully understand if I was never allowed to race another NASCAR race again, but I hope I will get that opportunity to race with them," Larson said. "With that platform I think I could do some good things."
One person who has pushed for Larson to be allowed back into NASCAR is Tony Stewart.
"NASCAR has gotta get off their ass and do the right thing and give this kid an opportunity to get back in a car," Stewart said in an exclusive interview with CBS Sports. "I think he's paid his penalty and he's served the penalty long enough where you know we've had similar instances in the sport that have happened and the penalties didn't last as near as long as this has lasted with Kyle."
Larson applied for reinstatement earlier this week and is currently being reviewed, per NASCAR.
There are rumors he could be headed to Hendrick Motorsports, but nothing is confirmed.