Larson relieved to get waiver and put all the ‘drama’ behind him

Kyle Larson is ready to put all waiver talk behind him as the NASCAR Cup Series goes racing at Sonoma Raceway.

NASCAR granted Larson a waiver to remain championship-eligible earlier this week. The Hendrick Motorsports driver needed a waiver after he did not start the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 26) because he ran in the Indianapolis 500. Larson’s attempt at the double fell by the wayside when the start in Indianapolis was delayed by four hours due to rain.

The same severe weather moved to North Carolina, ending the Coca-Cola 600 after 249 laps. Larson never made a lap in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.


“I think there’s definitely relief on my end even though I really wasn’t paying a ton of attention to it – to the waiver,” Larson said Saturday before qualifying at Sonoma Raceway. “At least now knowing that I do personally get to race for a championship feels good. I’m sure there was a lot that went into it on NASCAR’s end and a lot of discussion and [they] just wanted to be right. I think we all — probably even them — figured we would get the waiver. I think they were just trying to make sure they had all their ducks in a row first.

“I’m appreciative of it, for sure, and look forward to getting through this week and, hopefully, after this press conference not have to talk about waivers again. It feels good, and [I’m] thankful that nobody has to deal with the drama going forward.”

NASCAR did not consider the waiver until Hendrick Motorsports officially made the request. It is unclear when the team formally submitted the request, but it was not done during race weekend. Larson went into the Cup Series race last weekend in St. Louis not knowing if he was still eligible for the championship.

He didn’t have much to say about the process as it played out. The playoff points he accumulated before the Charlotte event, 17, were taken off the NASCAR championship points report until the waiver decision was made.

“Sure, I cared, but the thing I cared most about was the owner championship, at least in that moment [of uncertainty last week], because that’s what pays the bills,” he said. “That’s kind of where I was coming at it.

“I was a little less stressed out…than I think what everybody would imagine. I’m just happy that if I do win a championship now, I can have my name on the record books.”

In missing the race at Charlotte, Larson fell from the championship point lead to third in the standings, but he is still in contention for the regular-season championship and its 15 additional bonus points. He finished 10th in St. Louis and is 21 points behind leader Denny Hamlin going into Sonoma.

“I personally didn’t have any communication with NASCAR, but I know Jeff Gordon and Jeff Andrews and Rick Hendrick were in constant communication,” Larson said. “I was appreciative of the support through my race team, and I just let them handle it. I didn’t really know if there was anything I could say, and I’m pretty bad with words sometimes, so maybe I could have just dug myself a hole a little bit if I was to communicate.

“I’m just thankful that we don’t have to deal with it again. I’m happy to get to race for a championship, so thanks to everybody there.”

Larson, the 2021 series champion, has two wins on the season. He leads the series with seven stage wins and 656 laps led.

Story originally appeared on Racer