NASCAR fans can stop asking the same question about Kyle Larson

If Kyle Larson is not granted a Cup Series playoff waiver by NASCAR, it would be a shambolic decision and a total disgrace to the sport.
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

NASCAR requires Cup Series drivers to compete in all 26 races on the regular season schedule in order to be eligible to qualify for the 16-driver playoffs, either by winning or by getting in on points. That said, they have shown on many occasions that they are willing to grant playoff waivers to drivers who do miss races.

Waivers are granted for a variety of reasons, namely due to injuries. However, they are ultimately given at NASCAR's discretion.

While there were some doubters throughout the month of May, given some of his past comments, Kyle Larson proved that he does, in fact, "know what Indy means".

It was said time and time again that the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the priority when it came to his Memorial Day Double attempt, given that fact that he is a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver.

But despite the four-hour rain delay at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Larson opted to remain at the track and compete in the Indy 500, effectively guaranteeing that he would not be able to make it to Charlotte in time for the green flag.

He ended up not competing in the Coca-Cola 600 at all, as it was halted after 249 of the scheduled 400 laps around the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Concord, North Carolina oval due to rain. Larson arrived at the track as the red flag flew, and he was ready to run the final 151 laps, but the race was ultimately called, with Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell declared the winner.

By rule, even by getting to the track late and replacing replacement driver Justin Allgaier behind the wheel of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Larson would not have been credited with any points -- or a race win. As a result, he is now in need of a waiver to qualify for the playoffs.

But the idea that a playoff waiver is in question is simply baffling.

At no point has it ever looked like Larson would not be granted a waiver.

More than likely, the decision has already been made, and that's why Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon, and the entire Hendrick Motorsports team, which partnered with Arrow McLaren to field Larson's No. 17 Chevrolet for the Indy 500, allowed him to stay at Indianapolis, where he finished 18th after a late speeding penalty.

I sincerely have no idea why this continues to be asked. For all intents and purposes, it should not even warrant a discussion.

Sure, NASCAR was willing to promote an All-Star Race fight and then fine one of the drivers involved for $75,000 afterward.

But there is no way they are going to prevent arguably their top driver from taking part in the four-round, 10-race playoffs simply for not being able to get to Charlotte on time on a day when he promoted motorsport as a whole in a way that no driver had done since Kurt Busch in 2014.

It's not like he just decided not to show up to a NASCAR race, which is basically why the 26-race requirement is in place. Larson does already have two wins this season and is thus locked into the postseason, but it's not like he's simply skipping races because he knows his spot is secure.

With 70 points and eight playoff points on offer during the crown jewel event, he would have no reason to "get comfortable", per se, by skipping it. In fact, he ended up losing the points lead due to his absence.

We're talking about Larson running the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and attempting a feat that only four drivers before him had ever pulled off.

We're not talking about him taking a weekend off to attend a Taylor Swift concert.

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It would be shambolic on levels that transcend the world of sport if NASCAR were to make a decision anything other than the obvious right one. Having said that, it's probable that they've already made the right one, but it simply hasn't been announced.