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Kyle Larson on Playoff Waiver: 'It's Not Up to Me'

It's been six days since Kyle Larson missed the start of the Coca-Cola 600, and we still have no definitive answer on whether the driver will receive a Playoff Waiver or not. Larson addressed the waiver, and his attempt at the Double on Saturday.


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Kyle Larson's Waiver watch has entered day six without any definitive update on whether the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion will remain eligible for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs despite missing the start of last weekend's NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 in favor of running his first-career Indianapolis 500.

The situation seemed tense, and weird as Larson was questioned by the media about the waiver, which he has yet to have granted or denied by NASCAR as of Saturday afternoon.

When asked if he was surprised that he hasn't heard from NASCAR in regards to his Playoff Waiver request, Larson responded, "I don't know."

And when pressed on if he feels he deserves a Waiver, Larson shut that question down by stating,"It's not up to me."

While Larson seemed uneasy in the media availability, the driver says there is no anxiousness within the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team heading into the unknown about whether he will receive a waiver to keep chasing for the NASCAR Cup Series driver's championship.

"No, not at all," Larson responded. "The team gets to race for a [owner's] championship."

As speculation has run rampant over the last six days, many have expected if Larson isn't granted the waiver by NASCAR, that he would skip a few more NASCAR events through the Summer in favor of competing in other motorsport events. Larson denied any of those rumors as well on Saturday.

"I would not do anything different. I would try to win a championship," Larson stated.

Larson says waiver or no waiver, it'll be business as usual for the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team and him.

While many concluded that NASCAR and Rick Hendrick had a deal in place or at the very least an understanding about a Playoff Waiver, heading into the decision to have Larson remain in Indianapolis, it's becoming more and more aparent that that was not the case.

Larson says had he known that a Playoff Waiver wouldn't have been a certainty if he chose to stay in Indianapolis, that he's not sure if that would have changed his mind at all.

"I don't know. That's all hypothetical, and I'm not sure," Larson said.

And from the driver's standpoint, it would have been incredibly hard to bail on his first-ever Indianapolis 500. Unlike a typical NASCAR race weekend, the Indianapolis 500 is a full month-long tune-up session, and in the lead-up to the big race, Larson had impressed mightily.

The racer had qualified in the middle of the second row in the fifth position, and in the race, he had a few close calls, but looked to be heading to a potential top-five finish, until a pit road speeding penalty late in the day.

After an 18th-place finish, Larson bolted as quick as he could to Charlotte Motor Speedway, and was almost able to swap into the No. 5 Chevrolet in place of Justin Allgaier, who had done a great job as he had climbed to 13th position in place of Larson.

But just as Larson was about to climb into the car, a lightning strike, would bring out the red flag, and a massive rain storm would eventually signal the end of the race after just 249 laps. It was the absolute worst case scenario for Larson, who was visibly upset following Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 in an interview walking back to the parking lot.

Larson expressed sadness, but on Saturdy at Gateway, Larson gave more background on why he was feeling how he was feeling. He wasn't sad that he finished 18th in the Indianapolis 500. He wasn't sad that the rain came just as he was about to climb into the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports machine at Charlotte.

He was depressed because he felt like he had let his core No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team members down.

"Cliff [Daniels] gave me a good, nice phone call and all of that. I wasn't as sad about how the IndyCar race turned out, I was just sad that I didn't get a chance to get into the car, and get going. I felt like I was -- in my heart and my mind -- I felt like I was letting these guys down. Because I didn't get to talk to them before the race," Larson explained.

Larson continued, "I thought, if I was in their shoes, I would be -- I didn't know what they were thinking, I didn't want them thinking I chose something else over them. But after talking to Cliff, everybody was in great spirits, and all of that, and proud that I was in Indy representing their team. It all made me feel better. But I just didn't really know, so I felt depressed for a night or two."

Despite how disastrous his attempt at the Memorial Day Weekend Double went, thanks to Mother Nature, Larson says he would love to still give doing the Double another attempt. The California native feels like things couldn't go much worse than they did this time around.

"I mean, I would like to do it again just because I can't imagine the weather could get any worse, or could screw up the plans any worse," Larson quipped. "I think if I was to do it again, it would go smoother."

Before Larson can even contemplate doing the Double again, we will have to wait for NASCAR's decision on Larson's Playoff Waiver. That decision could have a major impact on whether Larson, or any other driver, ever decides to attempt The Double again.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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