HEISER: When Kyle Larson returns to racing, it could happen on central Pennsylvania track
- Kyle Larson uttered a racial slur Sunday during a virtual racing event.
- Larson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for his remark.
- Larson was also fired by Chip Ganassi Racing.
- Larson's next racing event could happen in a sprint car, possibly in central Pa.
After uttering a racial slur on Sunday night, Kyle Larson has been fired from his NASCAR Cup ride with Chip Ganassi Racing.
He's also been suspended indefinitely by the national stock-car racing organization.
That does't mean, however, that Larson's driving days are over. Eventually, he'll likely land another NASCAR ride. After all, before his most recent blunder, the 27-year-old was considered one of NASCAR's most talented young drivers and he was generally regarded as the most coveted upcoming free agent in the sport.
For the foreseeable future, however, he'll likely be a NASCAR outcast, especially among the most influential power brokers in that sport — namely the sponsors, who quickly dumped him after Sunday's comment.
In the end, the mistake will almost certainly cost Larson millions of NASCAR dollars.
Still, there's a decent chance that Larson will race again before the end of the year. It just won't be in NASCAR.
Racing at Grove or Lincoln?: His next likely ride will come in another form of racing that Larson loves dearly — sprint racing.
In fact, there's a remote possibility that Larson could be back in a race car within a month and racing on a central Pennsylvania dirt track.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is scheduled to race at Lincoln and Williams Grove speedways in mid-May. The chances of those races actually being held, however, appear extremely slim at best, given the coronavirus pandemic gripping the state. A statewide stay-at-home order is in effect through the end of April.
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All WoO events through April have also been canceled.
At this point, however, the WoO website is still selling tickets for the Morgan Cup at the Grove on Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16, and the Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln on Wednesday, May 13.
In the unlikely event those central Pennsylvania races are actually held, Larson just might be eligible to compete in them.
WoO statement: The WoO issued a statement on Tuesday saying that Larson must complete a sensitivity training course within 30 days of the date of his infraction to be eligible to compete in WoO events.
The WoO issued no other punishment for Larson, who has apologized for his remark. The organization did say that Larson violated a rule that requires all members to act in a professional manner at all times.
Larson also owns a WoO sprint team, Kyle Larson Racing, featuring driver Carson Macedo. The WoO said that team was not involved in Larson's infraction, will face no penalty and will be allowed to keep competing in all WoO-sanctioned events.
"Kyle is an important and visible stakeholder in the World of Outlaws community as both a Driver and Team Owner," the WoO said in the statement. "Kyle has admitted to making a mistake and it is our expectation that he will make every effort to represent the sport in a professional manner moving forward. Provided that Kyle completes the designated training in the allotted time, he will remain eligible to compete in all World of Outlaws sanctioned events."
Larson's use of the racial slur occurred Sunday, April 12, during a virtual racing event. If he completes his racial sensitivity training within the mandated 30 days he would be eligible to race at both Lincoln and Williams Grove in mid-May — if those races are actually held.
Larson loves sprint racing: Larson's love of sprint racing is well known and he has raced in central Pennsylvania on numerous occasions, winning four races in this area — twice at Grandview Speedway, once at Lincoln Speedway and once at Path Valley Speedway, all during Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek action.
In January, Larson finally won the prestigious Chili Bowl sprint event after 13 attempts. He was criticized by NASCAR fans after the Chili Bowl win for calling it the biggest of his career — just weeks before the season-opening Daytona 500, where he is 0-for-7.
“I’m sorry NASCAR, I’m sorry Daytona, but this is the biggest (expletive) race I’ve ever won,” Larson said after exiting his winning Chili Bowl car. “I hope to win Daytona in a few weeks but this is bad (expletive).”
Larson later apologized for downplaying the significance of NASCAR's most important race.
WoO also visits area in July and October: If the central Pennsylvania WoO sprint events in May are not held, the organization is next scheduled to visit the area on July 24-25, for the Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals at the Grove.
The Outlaws are also set to return to the Grove on Oct. 2-3 for the Champion Racing Oil National Open. The following weekend, Oct. 9-10, Port Royal is slated to host the Outlaws in the Nittany Showdown.
It's debatable if even those events will be allowed. Events that attract large crowds sitting in close proximity will likely be among the last activities to be reopened by the state.
Still, whenever sprint racing is allowed to resume, you can likely expect Larson to be there and ready to compete.
Depending on the timing, his return could very well happen on the central Pennsylvania circuit, which just happens to feature some of the best sprint racing in the nation.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com.