The NASCAR rules stipulate that a driver must run a full season in order to be eligible for the playoffs and a championship; but has made exceptions for drivers who miss races due to injury or have replaced drivers parting drivers.
Such is the case for Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth.
In the case of Ryan Newman, after being injured in the final lap of the Daytona 500, Newman has just been cleared to compete once again.
For Matt Kenseth, he has just been hired by Chip Ganassi Racing to replace the departed Kyle Larson behind the wheel of the number 42 car.
Under NASCAR rules, drivers must compete in all of the races and finish in the top 16 positions in order to be eligible for the playoffs. By issuing waivers to Newman and Kenseth, NASCAR is allowing the drivers to be eligible without having to compete in all 36 races. However, Newman and Kenseth will have to work their way into the playoff positions by either winning at least one race or finishing the regular season as one of the top 16 in points.
During his championship season, Kyle Busch missed several races after a big crash in Daytona that left him with fractures in both legs. Busch returned to the track three months later and won several races before taking the championship at Homestead-Miami.