Motorsport News

Sonoma Points Swing Ends Wild Month for Kyle Larson

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Over the past five weeks, there hasn’t been a lack of headlines surrounding Kyle Larson.

At Kansas Speedway, Larson was the victor in the closest finish in NASCAR Cup history, beating Chris Buescher to the finish line by 0.001 seconds. A week later at Darlington Raceway, Larson’s No. 5 featured the best throwback paint scheme of the weekend – a tribute to Terry Labonte’s Kellogg’s car from the 1990s.

Yet historic finishes and classic paint schemes all felt like a warmup for Larson’s attempt to complete The Double and run the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Plans had been in place for more than a year and many in the American motorsports world were anxious to see how Larson would fare in racing 1,100 miles in one day.

Then it rained.

The Indianapolis 500 was delayed by several hours and Larson’s ability to start both races slowly became a logistical impossibility. Making the decision to stay in Indianapolis, Larson ran well at the Brickyard until a late pit road speeding penalty dropped him to 18th in the final finishing order.

With NASCAR’s longest race already in progress, Larson then jumped on a plane bound for Charlotte. By the time he arrived, the race was already half over and a caution was out for rain. The same storm system that had soaked Indianapolis was now impacting Charlotte and Larson waited to take over the No. 5 car from substitute Justin Allgaier.

Frustratingly, he never got that chance. In a move that surprised the competitors and disappointed everyone, NASCAR opted not to continue battling the rain late into the night, declaring the Coca-Cola 600 official after 249 of 400 laps. Larson never had a chance to race at Charlotte. Worse yet, word got out in the following days that NASCAR was debating whether to give Larson a waiver for missing the Coca-Cola 600.

The news was puzzling, especially since NASCAR has typically given out playoff waivers like candy. Yet the sanctioning body was apparently unsure if Larson’s rain-soaked weekend counted as an attempt to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Additionally, there were rumors flying that NASCAR was unhappy that Larson chose to prioritize the Indianapolis 500 over the Coca-Cola 600.

Whatever the reason for NASCAR’s discussions, the question of Larson’s playoff eligibility polarized fans for a solid week until the sanctioning body declared that he would, in fact, get a waiver. NASCAR’s announcement seemingly tied up all the…

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