Kyle Larson receives waiver from NASCAR, playoff eligibility restored

The “will they/won’t they” surrounding Kyle Larson’s playoff exemption has finally come to an end. According to a report from Jordan Bianchi and Jeff Gluck of The Athletics, NASCAR is expected to announce Tuesday morning that they will indeed grant Larson a waiver to maintain his playoff eligibility. The decision comes after Larson missed the Coca-Cola 600 to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

Hendrick Motorsports requested the waiver Thursday after the Memorial Day race weekend, but NASCAR clearly took its time to think about it before ruling in Larson’s favor.

Now, Larson remains eligible for the NASCAR playoffs, which begin Sunday, September 8 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Larson currently sits second in the points standings, 21 points behind Denny Hamlin, even after missing the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600. Larson has two wins and seven stage wins so far in 2024.

Larson missed the Coca-Cola 600 after rain delayed the start of the Indianapolis 500. Larson attempted to complete the Memorial Day Double by competing in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in his career and later the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. that evening, but Mother Nature had other ideas.

Rain delayed the start of the Indianapolis 500 by nearly four hours. Larson, who was scheduled to start the Indianapolis 500 from the fifth starting spot, made the decision along with team owner Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman Jeff Gordon to remain in Indianapolis and complete the event. Larson ultimately finished 18th due to a speeding penalty on pit road.

By staying in Indianapolis, Larson ultimately missed the start of the Coca-Cola 600. Justin Allgaier would start the event in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet and yield the right of way to Larson upon Larson’s arrival. But when Larson arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway that evening, it was also raining. Ultimately, the race was declared official after 249 of the 400 laps had been completed. Larson never turned a lap.

Since NASCAR’s win-and-you’re-in-playoff format was introduced in 2014, NASCAR has enforced a rule stating that all drivers must attempt to start every race during the regular season to be eligible for the play-offs. NASCAR has granted waivers to drivers in special circumstances.

Kyle Busch famously won the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series championship after receiving a waiver from NASCAR following a crash during the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Daytona International Speedway that left him with a broken leg. Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott also received waivers for injuries that caused them to miss races, as well as NASCAR-issued suspensions.

Larson’s waiver marks the first time a driver has been granted a waiver after missing an event for any reason other than injury or suspension.

There were plenty of well-documented reasons for and against Larson receiving a waiver from NASCAR, but ultimately, Larson will still have a chance to compete for his second NASCAR Cup Series title and second title in four years.