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Kyle Larson Unsure on Playoff Waiver After Missing Coca-Cola 600; Competitors Feel He’s Deserving of Waiver

Kyle Larson Playoff Waiver NASCAR still hasn't decided Larson's competitors say he deserves a waiver

Photo by Jim Fluharty/HHP for Chevy Racing

We’ve reached the eve of the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and we still don’t have an official decision from NASCAR in regards to the Playoff Waiver, which has been requested by Hendrick Motorsports and the driver of its No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Kyle Larson.

RELATED: SRIGLEY: The Kyle Larson Waiver Question Has a Blatantly Obvious Answer

Larson missed the start of last Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway as he chose to remain in Indianapolis to run his first-career Indianapolis 500 despite a lengthy rain delay pushing the start of that race past the window of the driver being able to get to Charlotte in time for NASCAR’s Memorial Day Weekend Crown Jewel event.

Following an 18th-place finish in the Indy 500, which earned him Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors, Larson landed on the Charlotte Motor Speedway grounds after the end of Stage 2 of the race. As Larson ran toward his team’s pit box to get ready to swap out with Justin Allgaier, lightning halted the race on Lap 249, and a deluge of rain moments later would end the Coca-Cola 600 early without Larson getting a chance to turn a lap in the event.

On Saturday, Larson, and his fellow competitors, were pressed about the Waiver situation. Larson seemed very uneasy while talking about the situation, but says that there is no anxiety within the No. 5 team as the organization is still alive in the Owner’s Championship battle regardless of how the Waiver situation shakes out.

“No, not at all,” Larson stated. “The team gets to race for a championship.”

Many have speculated that if Larson isn’t granted a waiver, he could check out and run additional events this season instead of NASCAR Cup Series events. Larson insists that if he isn’t granted a waiver to continue competing for the NASCAR Cup Series Driver’s Championship, that he will do everything in his power to win an Owner’s Championship for the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team.

“I would not do anything different. I would try to win a championship,” Larson explained.

Larson says that he is unsure about whether he will be granted a waiver to continue chasing his second career NASCAR Cup Series driver’s championship, and says the decision isn’t up to him. However, Larson says that he would like to attempt the Memorial Day Weekend Double again because he feels the next attempt couldn’t go much worse than his first try.

“No, I mean, I would like to do it again, because I can’t imagine the weather could get any worse or to screw up the plans any worse,” Larson mustered a smile. “I think if I was to do it again, it would go smoother.”

When asked if he knew staying for the Indianapolis 500 would result in him not receiving a waiver, would he still stay for the Indianapolis 500 instead of running the Coca-Cola 600, Larson said that the question is a hypothetical one.

“I don’t know. That’s all hypothetical. I’m not sure,” Larson stated.

Here is a video of Larson’s Media Availability at World Wide Technology Raceway from FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass:

Larson’s Competitors Feel He Deserves a Playoff Waiver

While Larson is unsure about whether he’ll be granted a waiver by NASCAR, his fellow competitors seem to feel like he should, and many of them feel that he will indeed receive a waiver at the end of this whole ordeal.

Kyle Busch believes simply for how much Larson is doing for motorsports by running multiple disciplines of racing all at the same time, NASCAR should grant him the waiver.

“It’s Kyle Larson. Guy is doing more for motorsports than anybody else,” Busch stated.

Denny Hamlin, who drives the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series and is the co-owner of the 23XI Racing organization, which fields cars for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick, says he feels a waiver would be proper, as he thinks Larson and Hendrick Motorsports attempted to run the Coca-Cola 600 in good faith.

“Yes, and no,” Denny Hamlin answered when asked if he was surprised NASCAR hasn’t ruled on Larson’s waiver yet. “I don’t know when they submitted it and what usually is the timeline of accepting or denying in a certain amount of time. Certainly, I think they made their best efforts to get there. I understand NASCAR’s part in wanting to protect themselves from this happening in the future, but I think they made good faith efforts to race.”

If Larson isn’t granted the waiver, it very well could squash any driver’s hopes of running the Indianapolis 500 / Coca-Cola 600 double in the future. Tyler Reddick didn’t feel comfortable weighing in too heavily on the topic, but did say that the situation is very concerning.

“Yeah, I have thoughts,” Tyler Reddick explained. “Yeah, it’s concerning. That’s all I’m going to say right now. It’s very concerning.”

Brad Keselowski, the driver of the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford Mustang and co-owner of the RFK Racing team says he believes ultimately Larson deserves a waiver, and he feels he will get one, but he feels like NASCAR is going to make him wait it out.

“I’m not surprised he hasn’t got it yet, but I do think he’ll get it and he should get it,” Brad Keselowski said. “Some rather unique circumstances. I like the idea of drivers running the double. I think that’s good for our sport, I think it’s good for our industry as a whole, and I think everybody sees the value in that. Probably some industry angst over when things got tough, what got prioritized. But that’s just part of how it goes sometimes. I don’t know if I have an answer to make that any better. Certainly an interesting situation. I feel like he’ll get a waiver, and he should get a waiver, and we’ll move on from this. As of now, it seems as though he’s going to have to sweat it for a little bit, but I think it will work out.”

Keselowski’s teammate Chris Buescher believes Playoff waivers are basically pointless as NASCAR has very rarely not granted them in the past.

“No, I’m not surprised on it. I don’t know, they’ve become very openly given out at this point. So, it doesn’t feel like there’s much use for them at all, I don’t think,” Buescher stated.

Buescher continued by saying he doesn’t feel like NASCAR has much ground to really deny Larson’s waiver.

“I would say there’s not a way that they can’t,” Buescher said.

While the majority of Larson’s competitors feel like he should be granted a waiver, a large portion of the NASCAR fanbase, and media also feel like he should be granted a waiver, at the end of the day, the decision comes down to NASCAR and whether the sanctioning body is okay with drivers prioritizing other big marquee events over their own crown jewel races.

This is a precedent-setting waiver decision, and one that will set the tone for these types of potential situations going forward. It will also play a big factor into whether Larson or any other NASCAR Cup Series drivers are able to participate in the Indianapolis 500 for years to come.

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