As NASCAR is set to make its grand return to racing, there’s one driver who won’t be part of the field – Kyle Larson.
The talented, 27 year old driver is in the midst of an indefinite suspension after using a racial slur during a virtual NASCAR race that took place on iRacing at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on April 12th.
The consequences for Larson didn’t just end with a suspension as he was fined, ordered to sensitivity training, and ultimately fired from his racing team.
NASCAR betting sites have released odds on Larson’s future as it pertains to his return to the sport’s top league. Let’s take a closer look at these odds and see if there’s any betting value with this prop bet.
Kyle Larson Betting Odds
Will Kyle Larson race again in NASCAR’s top series in 2020 or 2021?
For those unfamiliar with Kyle Larson, he was the driver of the #42 Chevrolet car, owned by Chip Ganassi Racing. He was also an up-and-coming driver who made the NASCAR Playoffs last year. He’s had a decent amount of success in his pro racing career and pegged to be a future star of the sport.
Larson was Rookie of the Year for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2012, for the Nationwide Series in 2013, and for the Sprint Cup Series in 2014. He’s won six career races in the Cup Series along with the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2015 and the 2020 Chili Bowl Nationals Championship this year.
Prior to his suspension, Larson was sitting 7th in the standings with one Top 5 and three Top 10s in the first four races of the 2020 season.
In other words, Larson has the talent to succeed at the highest level of the sport. But, now we have to ask if his talents will be enough to earn him a second chance to return to the Cup Series by the end of the 2021 season.
Before I make my prediction, let’s review the fallout from Kyle Larson’s racial incident.
What Happened at the Controversial iRacing Event?
Due to NASCAR being on hiatus, a number of virtual iRacing events had been set up by eSports to entertain fans and keep the drivers mentally sharp.
One of these iRaces became the focus of the entire sports world and sent social media into a frenzy on April 12th after Larson dropped a bomb by loudly saying the “N-word.”
The slur was clearly heard and then proceeded to go viral, hitting the news outlets and making headlines very quickly.
In addition to the unnecessary usage of this racial slur, some racing fans find this incident to be perplexing because of the fact that Larson himself is half-Japanese and in fact made his way through the ranks in NASCAR thanks to its diversity program.
Larson Tries to Quickly Clean up His Mess
Larson was quick to film a video apology on April 13th, the day after the racial slur was used, but since that point he has remained quiet and has not made any official statements on the matter.
“I just want to say I’m sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said, and there’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. You know, it’s just an awful thing to say. I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community, and especially the African-American community. I understand the damage is probably unrepairable.”
For the most part, critics believed that Larson’s apology was sincere. Unfortunately for Larson, that wasn’t enough to prevent further consequences for his insensitive actions.
More than Just a Suspension – Larson Was Fired
In addition to a suspension, sponsors such as McDonald’s and One Bank almost immediately cut ties with him, which eventually prompted Chip Ganassi Racing to fire him citing his behavior was “offensive and unacceptable”. The official statement read:
“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson. As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take.”
Larson has been replaced with driver Matt Kenseth, who was the 2003 Cup Series Champion and will be coming out of retirement to drive the #42 car.
The racial slur also resulted in iRacing suspending Larson indefinitely.
NASCAR mandated that Larson would need to complete sensitivity training before he could even be considered for reinstatement. He has since gone on to complete the mandated training.
Larson Has Already Gotten Back Behind the Wheel
While the NASCAR suspension will keep him sidelined, that hasn’t stopped Larson from getting back behind the wheel – at least in some form.
Just this week, May 8th, Larson took part in a World of Outlaws race at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa – a dirt track event.
World of Outlaws however had the same stipulation as NASCAR in that Larson had to first complete sensitivity training within 30 days of Larson’s infraction.
After doing so, a World of Outlaws spokesperson announced that he had met all the requirements necessary to be allowed to compete. The return to the driver’s seat comes after almost one month of being handed down the suspension.
As for what car he used for the race, it was the No. 57 sprint car for the team that he owns. Because of the concerns over the current health crisis, the race took place without any spectators in the stands. Also appearing in the race was retired NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.
“Kyle is an important and visible stakeholder in the World of Outlaws community as both a driver and team owner. 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 Moves Back to California From North Carolina
In light of the incident, Larson seems to be making a number of big changes in his life at the moment. Reports have come out stating that he has listed his North Carolina house for sale and moved back home to California.
This was a brand new house that had been built specifically for Larson. The idea was that this house would have him situated near an ideal location for training and racing in the region.
The home has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a swimming pool, outdoor kitchen, a fireplace and a beach view. The asking price is $5 million dollars.
Does Kyle Larson Deserve a Second Chance?
This is the question that NASCAR will have to answer sooner than later. One of Larson’s peers Bubba Wallace publicly commented on the situation. The talented, young driver shared a lengthy statement on Twitter in regards to his friend Kyle Larson and the use of the racial slur.
In his statement, Wallace said the following:
“What Larson said was wrong, whether in private or public. There is no grey area. I saw the incident the night it happened and within 5 minutes Kyle texted me. He called me the next morning as well. Finally I called him back with a FaceTime to talk “face to face” and we had a good conversation, his apology was sincere. His emotions and pride were shattered“
As one of the sport’s only African American drivers, Wallace’s perspective on the situation was sought out by fans and media alike. He would go on to say that he’s not mad at Larson and that “he, along with most people deserve second chances, and deserve space to improve.”
But, does NASCAR feel the same way?
Will Larson Return to the Cup Series by End of 2021?
Now that the field is set with all of the information we can gather on this Larson debacle, it’s time to address the prop bet and choose which option to wager on.
Most critics will probably side with the “No” option for this prop bet largely because they don’t believe Larson should have a second chance. However, we do live in a country where there are second chances for most celebrities and athletes.
It’s in that sense that I believe we will see Larson back in the Cup Series before the end of 2021. I don’t see him returning this year, but his fitting punishments and contrite behavior should get him another shot behind the wheel next season.
Remember, in this culture, talent trumps controversy and despicable acts. Just think about other professional sports leagues that give athletes second chances after arrests for many different crimes like domestic violence.
If there’s one horrible thing we’ve learned about pro sports in general is that a talented athlete who can help a team or owner win almost always gets a second chance.
So far, Larson has done everything required of him in regards to his punishments. If he can continue to show remorse, be sympathetic toward racial insensitivities, and turn this disgraceful act into a public outcry for change then the odds are good that he will get a second chance next year.
Will Larson Return to Cup Series By End of 2021?Yes (+350)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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