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NASCAR fans love rooting for their favorite drivers on the track, but what are these athletes' lives like when they leave their cars behind for the day?
That's one of the concepts explored in the USA Network series "Race For The Championship," premiering on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The unscripted show follows several NASCAR drivers as they compete in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes peek at what goes on at the race track during these competitions as well as a look into the drivers' lives at home.
One such driver featured in the series is Kyle Larson, widely considered to be one of the best drivers in the NASCAR field. Here's what to know about him.
Larson, 30, is a member of Hendrick Motorsports and drives the #5 car, a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Currently on his 8th season, Larson is the returning champ this year, having won the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. It's another flourish in an illustrious career that began when he was growing up in California and got involved in kart racing, eventually making his way into the world of NASCAR, where he's racked up wins and accolades since his 2012 debut.
However, it's only his second year with Hendrick Motorsports — he previously was part of the Chip Ganassi Racing Team, but was fired in 2020 after he used a racial slur on a Twitch live stream and was suspended from NASCAR.
He later apologized for the incident, writing, "I was rightly suspended by NASCAR. I jeopardized the livelihoods of the crew members who had poured their careers into building me fast racecars. My fans were upset. In an instant, I turned a lot of lives upside down and destroyed my own reputation," per a 2020 CBS Sports report.
Larson, who is of Japanese descent, continued, "Since April, I’ve done a lot of reflecting. I realized how little I really knew about the African American experience in this country and racism in general. Educating myself is something I should’ve done a long time ago, because it would’ve made me a better person – the kind of person who doesn’t casually throw around an awful, racist word. The kind who makes an effort to understand the hate and oppression it symbolizes and the depth of pain it has caused Black people throughout history and still to this day. It was past time for me to shut up, listen and learn."
His suspension was lifted in October 2020 and he was cleared to return to NASCAR racing activities in January 2021.
He has been married to Katelyn Sweet since 2018, who has gained her own measure of viral fame after she celebrated Larson's success by shotgunning a beer. The two live in Elk Grove, California, where they raise their two children, Owen, 6, and Audrey, 3.
NASCAR isn't his only passion, though. Larson is also an accomplished dirt track racer. He's won the Chili Bowl Nationals twice and recently scored his first win at the Knoxville Nationals. To vary between the two sports is rare for NASCAR drivers, as it's easy to get burnt out juggling the two different kinds of racing. For Larson, though, it's just another way of exploring his passion for driving.
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