NASCAR fans' true Kyle Larson feelings become crystal clear

While they may not admit it, Kyle Larson's Sonoma victory is exactly why a contingent of fans wanted to keep him out of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Sonoma Raceway, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Sonoma Raceway, NASCAR / Logan Riely/GettyImages

No wonder so many individuals advocated for NASCAR to exclude Hendrick Motorsports' Kyle Larson from the ranks of the Cup Series for the rest of the 2024 season and thus make him ineligible for one of the 16 playoff spots.

In his first race since it was confirmed that he would indeed be granted a playoff waiver for missing the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month, Larson secured his third win of the 2024 season at Sonoma Raceway in Sunday afternoon's Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Larson had already been locked into the playoffs, thanks to his victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway earlier in the year, but one of the rules states that in order to remain playoff eligible, a driver must run all 26 regular season races.

Larson missed the Coca-Cola 600 after opting to stay at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and compete in the rain-delayed Indy 500 – and after NASCAR inexplicably decided to end the Coca-Cola 600 early, despite the fact that the track was drying after rain caused a red flag after 249 of 400 laps.

While all kinds of opinions and claims were made, many of which probably not even believed by the individuals giving them, regarding why Larson did not deserve a playoff waiver, Sunday's race at Sonoma proved what many of those individuals really meant.

We all knew from the start that those arguments were nothing more than an attempt to stir the pot.

The reality of it is that unless you're a fan of the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, your favorite driver inherently has less of a chance to win the championship as long as Larson is still eligible to win it.

So naturally there were fans who didn't want Kyle Larson in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

There is, of course, a long way to go, and a regular season road course victory is hardly what makes Larson the championship threat he is.

But it certainly doesn't hurt.

Larson has been one of the betting favorites to win the title all season long, and while he personally did not make it to the Championship 4 in 2022, the No. 5 team has been in the owners' Championship 4 every year since he joined the team in 2021 and won 10 races, the most for any driver in a single season since Jimmie Johnson in 2007, en route to capturing his first title.

The 31-year-old Elk Grove, California native is now back atop the point standings with a series-leading three wins and a series-leading seven stage wins, despite the fact that he missed the race in which the most points (70) and playoff points (eight) were on offer.

Next. NASCAR changes Sonoma results shortly after the race ends. NASCAR changes Sonoma results shortly after the race ends. dark

He also has a series-leading 22 playoff points, and he has a series-leading 37 provisional playoff points currently slotted in beside his name in the standings, since the regular season champion is awarded 15 more.