NASCAR announced Tuesday that it has granted playoff waivers for Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Newman and Chip Ganassi Racing driver Matt Kenseth. The waivers ensure that if either driver wins a race or is ranked in the top 30 in points during the regular Cup Series season, they will be eligible to compete in the 10-race playoffs for a championship.
On Sunday, Newman said he was ready to resume racing after suffering “something like a bruised brain” during a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500. On Monday, NASCAR said Newman was medically cleared to race again.
Newman is currently ranked 29th in points standings with the 36 points he was awarded from the Daytona 500. He will maintain those points when he returns, but he does not gain points from driver Ross Chastain, who raced the No. 6 Chevrolet in place of Newman for three races.
Kenseth, who was named as the replacement for No. 42 driver Kyle Larson after Larson was fired for using a racial slur, will enter the Cup Series with zero points. He will make his 2020 season debut when NASCAR resumes, which is expected to be on May 17 at Darlington.
The NASCAR playoffs consist of 16 drivers competing in the final 10 races of the season, which are scheduled to begin with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 6 and culminate with the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 8.
In March, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said the sport intended to maintain its original playoff schedule and track order despite the upheaval the coronavirus pandemic has caused to other parts of its schedule.
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