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Fired NASCAR driver Kyle Larson to make return to racing with World of Outlaws on Friday

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Kyle Larson
  • Fired NASCAR driver Kyle Larson will return to racing on Friday night.
  • Larson will compete in a World of Outlaws 410 sprint event in Knoxville, Iowa.
  • Larson was fired from his NASCAR ride three weeks ago for uttering a racial slur.

Kyle Larson will soon return to racing and the World of Outlaws will soon hold events in front of fans.

Those newsworthy items emerged this week from the dirt-track racing world.

First, it was announced that Larson plans to race again Friday night in a World of Outlaws event at Knoxville Raceway.

The dirt track in Iowa will not have spectators at the event for the 410 sprint cars because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it will be live streamed on DIRTVision, for a fee. It is the first Outlaws event since March.

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Larson was fired from his NASCAR ride three weeks ago by Chip Ganassi Racing for using a racial slur while competing in an iRacing event. The slur was publicly heard on a gaming app and went viral. Most of Larson’s sponsors bailed on him and Ganassi had to fire his star NASCAR driver.

Limited fans to be allowed at WoO events: A little later, it was announced that the WoO sprint series will start allowing limited, socially-distanced fans to attend some events starting with the May 22-23 shows at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Missouri.

On May 29-30, the WoO sprint series moves to Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Missouri, for another program in front of a limited, socially-distanced crowd.

WoO events originally scheduled for May 23 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, May 25 at Lawrenceburg Speedway, May 29 at Lake Ozark Speedway, May 30 at I-70 Motorsports Park and June 3 at I-80 Speedway have been postponed.

The WoOutlaws late-model series is also adjusting its schedule, with action resuming May 15-16 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 rather than the previously announced Boone Speedway. The change allows the event to he held in front of fans on a limited basis. Another WoO late-model event is set for May 18 at U.S. 36 Raceway in Cameron, Missouri, in front of another limited crowd. The WoO late models then head to the Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota on May 22-23, provided Minnesota opens on schedule on May 18.

Larson completes training: The 27-year-old Larson, meanwhile, is set to get back in a race car after reportedly completing sensitivity training as mandated by both the WoO and NASCAR.

The half-Japanese Larson rose through NASCAR’s ranks in its diversity program. After being suspended by NASCAR, Larson immediately left North Carolina and returned to his home state of California. He raced dirt tracks across the West Coast when he began his career.

Larson said he’d be driving the No. 57 at Knoxville, a car that is listed as owned by Sacramento-based Paul Silva. Larson is from nearby Elk Grove.

Also scheduled to compete in the Knoxville event is retired NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.

Familiar faces to local fans: Both Larson and Kahne have made numerous appearances over the years at dirt tracks in central Pennsylvania. 

Larson's love of sprint racing is well known. He's won 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.

After Larson issued the racial slur, the WoO issued a statement saying that Larson needed to complete a sensitivity training course within 30 days of the date of his infraction to be eligible to compete in WoO events. 

A World of Outlaws spokesman told NBC Sports than Larson had completed his sensitivity training.

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 and would face no penalty and would be allowed to keep competing in all WoO-sanctioned events.

Selinsgrove racing on Saturday: Following the Knoxville event on Friday, racing will return to central Pennsylvania for a 410 sprint program at Selinsgrove Speedway on Saturday. No fans will be permitted at that event, but there will a live stream available at thecushion.com for $24.95.

'Posse Unleashed:' Dirt-track racing set to return to central Pennsylvania on Saturday

That event is being billed as the "Posse Unleashed." Selinsgrove is located in Snyder County, about 70 miles north of York. Snyder is one of the counties being moved to the yellow phase of Pennsylvania's COVID-19 mitigation program on Friday. The other tracks in the region, such as Lincoln, Williams Grove, BAPS, Grandview, Path Valley and Trailway, are located in counties still under the red phase of the recovery program. It's uncertain when those tracks will be able to resume racing, even without fans.

WoO virtual events: On Tuesday, the WoO held simulated iRacing events for both the sprints and the late models at virtual Volusia Speedway Park in Florida.

Christopher Bell won the sprint event, followed by William Byron Jr., Brent Marks, Mike McKinney, New Freedom's Robbie Kendall and Hanover's Logan Schuchart. Hanover's Jacob Allen was 17th.

McKinney won the late-model event. Schuchart was 16th.

New Freedom sprint driver Robbie Kendall tries to turn virtual success into real sponsors

Hanover's Logan Schuchart enjoying chance to compete in World of Outlaws iRacing contests

Both Kendall and Schuchart had previously won virtual sprint events, with each earning $1,000.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.