NASCAR: The real reason Kyle Larson missed Hall of Fame vote

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson might have missed the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting on Wednesday, but he did so for a very commendable reason.

As the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson was invited to take part in the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2023 voting, which took place on Wednesday.

Since 2014, the NASCAR Hall of Fame has invited the reigning champion to participate in the Voting Day process, and not since that time has a champion not been in attendance for the vote, save for when COVID-19-related restrictions impacted the voting process.

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However, despite being quoted in a article from Tuesday as being grateful for the opportunity and the “cool honor”, Larson was not in attendance on Wednesday, when Matt Kenseth, Kirk Shelmerdine, and Hershel McGriff were officially named to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2023.

Naturally, some questioned why he wasn’t there, especially considering the fact that his absence came just a day after the piece went live, and that even led to a certain amount of criticism.

However, the reason why he was absent stemmed from an even more respectable honor, and it rendered the criticism unjust.

As the reigning winner of the Coca-Cola 600, the annual race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day Sunday, Larson had the honor of taking a trip to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a historic monument dedicated to deceased United States service members whose remains have not been identified.

NASCAR Hall of Fame votes have generally been held the week leading up to the Coca-Cola 600, but the vote for the Class of 2023 vote was moved up three weeks so that it could serve as somewhat of a lead-in to the sport’s official throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway. However, this change was only announced last month.

But Larson’s trip was scheduled last June following his win in NASCAR’s longest race. It was the voting date that changed, and NASCAR was indeed made aware of the conflict and that Larson would not be surrendering the opportunity to lay the wreath just to be in attendance for the vote.

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Larson is set to attempt to defend his Coca-Cola 600 win on Sunday, May 29. The race is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET.