NASCAR grants Larson’s playoff waiver

Kyle Larson has been granted a waiver by NASCAR to remain eligible for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs after not starting the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“It was in uncharted waters,” said NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton 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.”


Hendrick Motorsports requested the waiver after Larson was kept in Indianapolis to compete in the 108th Indianapolis 500. The start of the race (May 26) was delayed by 4 hours due to inclement weather. Larson qualified fifth (in the middle of the second row) in his Arrow McLaren machine and finished 18th after a late-race speeding penalty.

Justin Allgaier started the Coca-Cola 600 in Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and because of the driver change, Allgaier dropped to the rear of the 40-car field for the green flag.

The plan was for Larson to complete the Indianapolis 500 and take over his Cup Series car after arriving at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Larson arrived on pit road in Concord at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET and was preparing to get into the car when the race was red-flagged because of rain and then went into a lightning hold.

A severe thunderstorm then moved into the area, and NASCAR deemed the race official nearly two hours later due to the weather and high humidity hampering track drying efforts that would likely have pushed the resumption of the event past 1 a.m. ET.

Allgaier ran the race’s 249 laps and finished 13th. He will be the driver of record for the Coca-Cola 600, with Larson not earning points for the event because he did not start the car.

“We went into that weekend all communication with (Hendrick Motorsports) was (NASCAR) was their priority,” Sawyer said. “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.”

This story has been updated to include quotes from NASCAR’s Elton Sawyer.

Story originally appeared on Racer