NASCAR grants Kyle Larson a playoff waiver after missing Cup race

NASCAR grants Kyle Larson a playoff waiver after missing Charlotte

NASCAR has ultimately decided to grant Kyle Larson a playoff waiver after skipping the Coca-Cola 600 Cup race.

NASCAR has granted Kyle Larson a playoff waiver which means he will continue running as an eligible NASCAR Cup Series title contender despite failing to start the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

This comes after severe weather in Indianapolis and Charlotte prevented Larson from racing in both the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500, despite his best efforts to become the fifth driver to achieve that feat. He ran the 500 but couldn’t manage to start his No. 5 Chevrolet in time for the 600.

Larson finished 18th at Indianapolis, won rookie of the year honors, and made it back to Charlotte just in time for the same storm that delayed the start of the Indy race to cancel the remainder of the 600.

Justin Allgaier started the race and was the driver of record whilst Larson did not turn a single lap. NASCAR regulations require playoff drivers to have started every race of the regular season unless receiving approval or a playoff waiver from the sanctioning body.

NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, Elton Sawyer, stated that Larson had been granted the waiver and remains eligible to battle for the 2024 Cup title following what he called a “diligent process.”

“It was in uncharted waters,” said Sawyer. “The decision-making process, it took the time it did to make sure that we got this right.

“The reason the waiver is in place, or one of the reasons it’s in place, is to give our fans some certainty that if they buy a ticket to come and watch our athletes and our stars perform, that they’re going to see them.

“The prior precedent that was set with allowing waivers, those were quick decisions. This one was unique in the fact that obviously Kyle raced with another series and wasn’t there to start our event…

“I commend our process, proud of our team and everyone had a view on it, and the ultimate decision that we wanted to get to was the right decision. We feel like we got there.”

Larson arrived in Charlotte after 249 of 400 laps were completed before the bad weather stopped the race and never resumed. Since it went more than half the distance it was considered official – and Larson never got behind the wheel. Allgaier was credited with the 13th place finish.

“We went into that weekend all communication with (Hendrick Motorsports) was (NASCAR) was their priority,” Sawyer added. “That was their day job. And unfortunately, the weather situation threw them a curveball, threw the industry a curveball and something that we had to deal with.

“But ultimately, the effort that they made, without the weather, they’re going to be there. We feel confident that was going to happen.

“To not have Kyle Larson in our playoff and give our fans the opportunity to see him race for a championship and compete against some of the best drivers in the world, at the end of the day, didn’t feel like that’s the right decision for us to make. We didn’t. We felt like we got to the right spot.”

The waiver was necessary for Larson to remain eligible for the postseason because the NASCAR Rule Book states, “Unless otherwise authorized by NASCAR, driver(s) and Team Owner(s) must start all Championship Events of the current season to be eligible for The Playoffs.”

In the past, NASCAR has granted waivers for drivers sidelined for medical reasons, and even drivers who they’ve suspended for violating NASCAR’s behavioral policy.

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