NASCAR has approved a playoff waiver for Chris Buescher, which will allow him to remain eligible for the NASCAR playoffs after he missed last week’s race at Gateway after testing positive for COVID-19. News of Buescher receiving a playoff waiver was first reported by Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports.
RFK Racing announced last week that Buescher would not race at World Wide Technology Raceway after he tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first race that he had missed due to either injury or illness since moving to Cup full-time in 2016. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star Zane Smith drove Buescher’s No. 17 in his place, finishing a solid 17th in his Cup Series debut.
Per Pockrass’ report, Buescher will return to the driver’s seat on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.
Buescher getting a playoff waiver was expected, as NASCAR has generally been liberal in granting them to drivers who miss races due to injury or illness since adopting its current playoff format in 2014. Playoff waivers for drivers who missed races due to COVID were previously granted to Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon in 2020 and to Corey LaJoie in 2021.
Although Buescher now remains playoff eligible, missing a race has made his path to the NASCAR playoffs much more difficult. Prior to Gateway, Buescher had sat 21st in the points standings, 75 points back of the cutoff line for the final spot in the playoffs. Now, Buescher has fallen to 24th and is a full 104 points back of Tyler Reddick at the cutoff line.