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via Getty

via Getty

As per NASCAR senior official Elton Sawyer, it seems like NASCAR is traversing “uncharted waters” with their decision to grant Kyle Larson a waiver. With Hendrick Motorsports currently awaiting formal approval from the sanctioning body for their request for one, the theater that follows Yung Money’s weather-botched Double Duty has shifted into top gear yet again.

This Sunday, Larson takes to the WWT Raceway for the Enjoy Illinois 300 Cup Series race for the third straight year, gracing the season’s calendar. However, even a win in Madison could go unrewarded in the much-bigger playoff picture, courtesy of the uncertainties brought about by NASCAR’s radio silence on a waiver for Kyle Larson. But the #5 driver has his sights set on performing to the fullest regardless of a chance to claim his second championship.

Kyle Larson is focused on racing despite NASCAR’s waiver silence

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The debates have been in full motion since the rains decided to play spoilsport for Kyle Larson’s return to Charlotte, only 151 laps from the finish of the Coca-Cola 600. Add to that the allegations of the man apparently “choosing IndyCars over NASCAR” with prior knowledge of approaching downpours in Indiana. And many will realize this week has been anything but stress-free for the 2021 Cup Series champion.

Larson missed the playoffs last year, during the 2020 season, as NASCAR suspended him for using a racial slur during a broadcasted iRacing event. Interestingly, Matt Kenseth, who had been out of the Cup Series for over a year, was granted a playoff waiver after 4 races as the dedicated replacement driver for the #42 Chip Ganassi Racing seat.

However, barring the criticisms following Hendrick Motorsports’ collective decision to field their 2024 Double Duty aspirant at the Brickyard instead of Charlotte, questions had been left unanswered on Larson’s prospects for the playoffs. Questions like: Will NASCAR grant the all-important waiver for a non-injury-related situation? And if they don’t, would Larson still be the force of nature he has been for the last 14 regular-season races?

When members of the media asked Larson if “NASCAR’s decision or lack thereof” would affect his performances “going forward through the summer,” he disapproved emphatically. Furthermore, speaking about his feelings about seemingly not being able to make “anybody happy,” Larson sportingly declared, “No, I mean, I would like to do it again; I can’t imagine weather being any worse or screw up the plans anymore. No, I mean, I think if I was to do it again. It would go smoother.”

 

To quell concerns about his future performance, Kyle Larson declared in just six short words, “I would not do anything different.” Instead, Larson explained that he would race as he normally would to “win a championship.”

Stressing the bigger picture, Larson concluded the Q&A session by stating, “I mean, there’s just eight bonus points on the line there and all that, so it was impactful or could be an impactful race for the season. So I know it just didn’t work. The weather didn’t work out. But nothing you can do about it now….” Contrary to belief, work is yet to unfold to help Kyle Larson’s current situation.

Granted, many legends and drivers have come forth voicing their support for Kyle Larson, who potentially deserves the waiver. But many have also spoken against the alleged “selfishness” to stay at Indy despite weather warnings through the prior week, suggesting a difficult predicament for Kyle Larson’s double advances.

Regardless, the only thing that matters for Hendrick Motorsports and their star driver at the moment is that waiver that should’ve been issued by now, strangely warranting NASCAR’s silence. At uncertain times like this, the affected need the best support systems. And it seems Rick Hendrick and the team have built the perfect crew to back the #5 driver in his difficult circumstances.

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An unwarranted emotional rollercoaster

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Opinions like those from Joey Logano on SiriusXM NASCAR radio, who has since clarified his comments: “IndyCar racing was a bigger race than NASCAR racing that day,” contemplating Kyle Larson’s situation, have garnered significant support. A decent percentage of fans and insiders are still undecided over the confusing playoff contention scenario surrounding the #5 Camaro ZL1. Some agree that Larson did, in fact, choose the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” last Sunday. Others suggest he brought more eyes to both sports with his almost inhuman attempt at 1100 miles of grueling true-blue American racing action.

However, it appears those negativities do not bleed through the walls of Hendrick Motorsports. As Larson explained between discussions, “Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) gave me a nice phone call and all that. I wasn’t as sad about the way that the IndyCar race turned out. I was just sad that you know I did get a chance to get into the car and get going. And I felt like I was in my heart and, in my mind, I thought that I was letting these guys down. Because I didn’t get to talk to them before the race.”

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With the support of Cliff Daniel’s well-oiled machines, Larson then made a heartwarming but concerning statement. “I thought, you know, If I was in their shoes…  I didn’t want them to think that I chose something else over them. But you know after talking to Cliff everybody was in great spirits and all that, and proud that I was in Indy representing their team. So. that all made me feel better. I just didn’t really know. So I just felt depressed for a night.”

Albeit ‘only for a night’, the relentless attention surrounding a ‘natural disaster’ has assumedly caught up to the usually calm, collected, and sharp Kyle Larson. Such is the nature of patience within the NASCAR community. But as we await a decision from the sanctioning body’s top offices, seemingly another day is wasted with no definite approval satisfying the collective curiosity of the masses awaiting a waiver for their favorite #5 driver.