Kyle Larson celebrated NASCAR approving his participation in the playoffs with his third Cup victory of the season — a Sunday win at his home track.

The victory for Larson, who grew up 80 miles away from Sonoma Raceway in Elk Grove, was his second on the rolling road course in picturesque wine country. It is the fifth win on a road course for NASCAR’s 2021 Cup champion and moved him to the top of the current series standings.

He wasn’t entirely sure how he got to victory lane after coming out of the pits in eighth after his final service stop of the race with less than 30 laps remaining. He had to drive his way to the front and didn’t regain the lead until eight laps remaining.

I didn’t know what we were doing as far as strategy. I was just out there banging laps away,” Larson said. “I don’t know, we study all the strategy, but it’s like doing homework: I don’t really know what I’m looking at.

“So I was like, ‘Well, man, these guys are going to have to pit another time, maybe?’ Then we said we had to go race and pass these guys, I got a bit nervous.”

Despite his early season dominance, it took until Tuesday of this week for NASCAR to grant Larson the waiver he needed to compete in this year’s playoffs because he missed the Coca-Cola 600 last month. Larson became the fifth driver to attempt to run the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s longest race of the season on the same day, but rain in both Indiana and North Carolina ruined the attempt.

The Indy 500 was delayed four hours by rain, which forced Larson to miss the start of the Coca-Cola 600. By the time he arrived in North Carolina, the race had been stopped for rain there, never resumed and Larson never turned a lap. Because of that, it took NASCAR a week of internal debate to decide if one of its biggest stars would be given the pass required to remain eligible for playoff participation.

His win at Sonoma only showed how foolish NASCAR would have looked had it ruled against the Hendrick Motorsports driver.