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Dale Earnhardt Jr. addresses implications and precedent of Kyle Larson waiver from NASCAR

Brian Jones Profile Picby:Brian Jones06/05/24

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Le Mans
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes NASCAR will have to figure some things out after giving Kyle Larson the waiver to compete in the playoffs. On the Dale Jr. Download podcast, Earnhardt talked about the implications and precedent of Larson getting the waiver after missing the Coca-Cola 600.

“The one thing that I hope is that NASCAR makes it a little clearer what happens going forward,” Earnhardt said. “This is a new precedent and what does this mean if this happens again? Is NASCAR going to say ‘Alright we’re giving him his waiver, but listen everybody these are literally for injuries and unusual circumstances.’

“They need to define what that is. I hope that they don’t just go, “‘Yup, here’s his waiver,’ and walk out of the room without comment.”

Earnhardt went on to say NASCAR executives may have been hesitant to give Larson the waiver. “I think there was real hesitation at the highest position in this sport,” Earnhardt said, “real decision-makers were thinking ‘Hey, this sets a new precedent.’ They would have not done this 20 years ago, 10 years ago. But they’re doing it today.”

If Larson hadn’t received the waiver from NASCAR, it would have not surprised Earnhardt who has been around the sport for his entire life. “It would not have floored me,” he said. “I’ve been around so long that none of this s*** flips me upside down like it does you young kids. I don’t want Larson not to get the waiver, but if he doesn’t get it, NASCAR has a reason.”

NASCAR official talks about giving Kyle Larson the waiver

Shortly after NASCAR announced Larson’s waiver, Elton Sawyer, the vice president of competition explained to reporters why they decided to permit Larson to compete in the playoffs. “One of the reasons (the waiver is) in place is to give our fans some certainty that if they buy a ticket to come and watch our athletes and our stars perform, that they’re going to see them,” Sawyer said. “So the prior precedent that was set with allowing waivers, those were quick decisions, as I said earlier. This one was unique in the fact that obviously Kyle raced with another series and wasn’t there to start our event.”

Sawyer also said, “We had our internal meetings. We had more internal meetings. We continued to have dialogue around it. And then the other part of it is in front of us was a race at World Wide Technology raceway that (we were) all getting prepared for. So again, the number one thing was to get to the right decision, take the time.”