Kyle Larson finds relief with NASCAR waiver

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 08: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Valvoline Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 08, 2024 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson said at Sonoma Raceway Saturday that he’s certainly happy to receive a waiver from NASCAR this week allowing him to continue to race for the championship despite missing the Charlotte 600-miler on Memorial Day weekend.

He competed in a rain-delayed Indianapolis 500 and by the time he got to the second half of his planned “Double,” bad weather had forced the stop of the Charlotte race and it was called early. Larson did not get to turn a lap after arriving at track.

Despite missing the points from that race, Larson sits second in the championship standings – 21 points behind the leader Hamlin entering Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.

“Obviously, I think there’s relief on my end, even though I really wasn’t paying a ton of attention to it [NASCAR decision], to the waiver” said Larson, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “At least now knowing 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.”

Larson said that he did not personally speak with NASCAR regarding the decision but that Hendrick executives Jeff Gordon, Jeff Andrews and the team’s Hall of Fame owner Rick Hendrick were in more constant contact. He believes NASCAR was just trying to “get all their ducks in a row” before announcing its decision Tuesday.

“I was appreciative of the support of my race team and just kind of let them handle it,” Larson said, adding “I’m just thankful we don’t have to deal with it again and happy to get to race for a championship.

“. …I was a little less stressed out about it than I think what everybody would have imagined me to be. I’m just happy that if I do win a championship now I can put my name on the record books.”