CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR on Tuesday granted Kyle Larson the waiver he needs to remain eligible to compete in this year’s playoffs despite missing the Coca-Cola 600 because he instead ran the Indianapolis 500.

The decision came after nearly nine days of internal NASCAR debate over whether Larson should be punished for choosing to stay in Indianapolis, where rain delayed the May 26 race by four hours. That meant Larson had zero chance of making it back to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600.

But it was always his intent to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Larson did make it to the track, only to have the race called for rain before he ever turned a lap in his No. 5 Chevrolet. Justin Allgaier started in Larson’s place and was credited with a 13th-place finish.

“This one was unprecedented in that we had a driver miss one of our races, our championship races, to be at another event,” said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “The time we took, which was a week, was exactly the right time we needed to make the decision.”

Larson, who has two wins this season that make him automatically eligible for the playoffs, had his Cup Series standings altered after Sunday’s race outside St. Louis. Although he was listed as second in the overall standings, all his playoff points had been wiped away.

The playoff points were restored in Tuesday’s standings.

Larson, who finished 18th at Indianapolis in large part because of a late speeding penalty, had worked out a minute-by-minute plan with Hendrick Motorsports to ensure he’d made the start of the Coke 600. But when rain disrupted the Indy 500, Rick Hendrick made the decision to keep Larson in Indianapolis.

All of Hendrick Motorsports was in constant contact with NASCAR and under the impression there was no issue so long as Larson made it back to compete in the 600.

Sawyer said no one from Hendrick was ever guaranteed a waiver if Larson did not make the NASCAR race.

Larson was the fifth driver in history to attempt to run the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. Only Tony Stewart in 2001 completed all 1,100 miles.


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