How Kyle Larson is utilizing his second chance

In his return to the NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle Larson is making the most out of his second chance, both on and off the track.

When Hendrick Motorsports announced the signing of Kyle Larson to drive the #5 Chevrolet in his return to the NASCAR Cup Series this year, there were some questions as to how he would handle essentially a full season off and how he would perform in Rick Hendrick’s equipment.

Those are no longer questions.

Since his return, Larson has shown his true potential when it comes to racing anything with four wheels. He continues to dominate outside the NASCAR circuit, racking up wins on the dirt in both late models and sprint cars.

And his results in a Cup Series car have been just as impressive, if not more so.

The 28-year-old Elk Grove, California native has already won four races this year, the most of any driver in the Cup Series through 21 races. In fact, he has five wins if you include his victory in the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway. This stat is even more impressive when you consider the fact that there have already been 12 different winners in 2021.

Larson notched his first 1.5-mile oval win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his first crown jewel win in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his first road course victory at Sonoma Raceway. He also won the inaugural race at Nashville Superspeedway.

With this domination, Hendrick Motorsports have already rewarded him a contract extension that runs through the 2023 season, with sponsorship from HendrickCars.com and Valvoline.

Larson’s in-house sponsorship from Hendrick was one of the few options he had going into the 2021 season based on what transpired last year. But Larson’s deal to drive a #5 Chevrolet reminiscent of Hendrick’s late son, Ricky, has had a positive effect.

But with his dominant return to NASCAR, Larson hasn’t forgotten what led him to being out of the sport in the first place.

Last year, when NASCAR and the rest of the world were shut down during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCAR drivers left their stock cars to the race in the virtual world of iRacing.

During an iRacing event, Larson used a racial slur, costing him his ride at Chip Ganassi Racing and knocking him out of the series for the rest of the 2020 season. It also caused fans to see him in  much less favorable light.

This led to Larson working hard off the track to earn a second chance that was never guaranteed, and he has continued to capitalize on these off-track opportunities ever since.

He has continued to work with the Urban Youth Racing School, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that aims to provide careers and opportunities in motorsports for urban youth.

After his use of the racial slur, Larson met in-person with members of the school to apologize for his actions and to help rebuild the relationship. He was able to mend that relationship to the point where they now view him not as a racist, but as somebody who made a mistake. And they have accepted that he made a mistake.

NASCAR has also echoed Larson’s bond with the school, making a $75,000 donation of their own.

Larson is showing why second chances are given and how a person can make the most out of one. He is dominant on the race track, he is a championship favorite, and he drives for the premier Chevrolet team at NASCAR’s top level. But on top of all of that, he is dedicated to a continued growth in the area of what cost him his first chance, and he has become a prime example of how to grow and learn from a setback.

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