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CONFIRMED: NASCAR To Grant Kyle Larson a Playoff Waiver

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR announced Tuesday that Kyle Larson will receive a Playoff waiver despite missing the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend to compete in the Indianapolis 500. The move means Larson is still eligible for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and to win the Cup Series Championship. This comes after more than a week of fierce debate amongst fans, those in the industry, and pundits alike.

  • NASCAR rules state that a driver must compete in all races to be eligible for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs unless already authorized by NASCAR. Waivers have been given out before, primarily due to driver injuries, but exceptions have also been made for driver suspensions and even once for a driver too young to compete in all of the races. This is the first time a waiver has been given after a driver chose to skip a race despite having a ride while being healthy enough and eligible to race.
  • On Memorial Day Weekend, Kyle Larson intended to attempt “The Double,” competing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day. However, weather delayed the Indianapolis 500, and he chose to skip the start of the Coca-Cola 600 as a result. He arrived in Charlotte to finish the race, but rain ended the race 151 laps short of the scheduled distance without Larson turning a lap.
  • Fans and everyone else involved in the industry have many reactions to this move. Some believe NASCAR made the correct decision because Larson’s “Double” helped promote NASCAR, and he made an honest attempt to qualify for and make it to the race even after being late. However, others believe NASCAR should not have given him a waiver because he chose to skip the start of the Coca-Cola 600.

What Executives Had to Say

NASCAR Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer spoke to the media on a Zoom call on Tuesday morning to explain NASCAR’s decision. He discussed a variety of topics people had been debating throughout the past week.

Many believed that Larson making the choice to skip the Coca-Cola 600 would keep him from getting that waiver, and others wondered if an extra points penalty was in order. However, Sawyer told the media that Larson made a genuine effort to get to Charlotte and that Larson’s decision to skip Charlotte already meant losing points. Jerry Jordan notes the full quote below.

People also wondered why the decision took over a week, despite most waiver decisions coming quickly. Sawyer echoed a similar sentiment to what he said on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio in the immediate days following the incident, saying that this was “Uncharted waters.” Jeff Gluck has the full comments below.

Rick Hendrick released a statement on NASCAR granting Larson the waiver. In it, Hendrick expressed disappointment over “The Double” not working out due to bad weather and how it impacted both the race teams and the fans. However, he was happy with how Larson represented both himself and NASCAR and that NASCAR ultimately gave them a waiver.

Under normal circumstances, completing ‘the double’ is one of the toughest tests in sports. Despite our best efforts, this year’s combination of weather conditions in Indianapolis and Charlotte made it impossible. Although losing ground in the standings was hard to swallow, we were especially disappointed for the fans at the Coca-Cola 600 who were not able to see Kyle [Larson] race. I’m extremely proud of everything he did to prepare and the months of planning by our team and our partners at Arrow McLaren to run these two crown jewel events. We hoped race day would play out differently, but the program was still incredibly positive for everyone involved. Kyle’s performance throughout May was a great reflection on the level of talent competing each week in the NASCAR Cup Series. We appreciate NASCAR communicating with us throughout the effort and granting our request for a playoff waiver.

Rick Hendrick

Kyle Larson also expressed his thoughts in a post on X, giving NASCAR a “Thumbs Up.” It’s safe to say Larson was relieved as well.

Stay tuned to the Daily Downforce for more on this and everything else happening in the NASCAR world. Be sure to let us know on Discord or X what your take is, and don’t forget you can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube

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Joshua Lipowski

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