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NASCAR’s only African American driver says Kyle Larson deserves a second chance

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 29: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, stands by his car before qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 29, 2020 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The only African American driver in NASCAR, Bubba Wallace, said he believes Kyle Larson’s apology for using the N-word during a virtual racing event Sunday was sincere and that Larson deserves a second chance.

“What Larson said was wrong, whether in private or public. There is no grey area,” Wallace wrote Thursday in a statement posted to Twitter.

“I am not mad at him, and I believe that he, along with most people deserve second chances, and deserve space to improve,” Wallace wrote. “And I am more than willing to work with him to address diversity and inclusion in our sport.”

Larson, 27, was fired Tuesday from his racing team over his use of the slur and has been dropped by sponsors including McDonald’s and Credit One Bank.

Wallace during a FaceTime conversation Monday told Larson that “it was too easy for him to use that word and that he has to do better and get it out of his vocabulary,” Wallace wrote.

Wallace, 26, also noted that he believes NASCAR is doing a lot to promote equality. The 26-year-old “didn’t want to be involved” in public discussion of the Larson incident but felt he had to say something, he wrote.

“NASCAR has been doing what it can to get away from the ‘racist and redneck sport’ labels,” he wrote. “Diversity and inclusion is a main priority for the sport across every team, every car, every crew member and employee.

“With that said, it hurts to see the African American community immediately throw NASCAR under the bus with the ‘I’m not shocked, it’s NASCAR.’ NASCAR has been, and will be way better than how we’ve been represented in the last couple of weeks.

He continued: “Can we all do a better job with inclusion? Absolutely, it’s a worldwide problem, not just in our sport. We as humans can always do better.”

Larson had been participating in a live-streamed iRacing tournament on streaming platform Twitch when he was recorded using the racial slur.