Bubba Wallace suspended from NASCAR for “dangerous act” in the Las Vegas race

Bubba Wallace received a race suspension from NASCAR after an investigation found that he deliberately turned reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson in Las Vegas into a “dangerous act” of retaliation before facing him later.

Wallace had a shoving match with Larson after Sunday’s incident in Las Vegas and even dismissed a NASCAR official. The suspension issued on Tuesday is part of NASCAR’s behavioral policy and could technically cover most of Wallace’s stock in Las Vegas.

Bubba Wallace pushes Kyle Larson after their crash on October 16, 2022 during a NASCAR race in Las Vegas.

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But Steve O’Donnell, the executive in charge of the competition and running operations, said the penalties were for Wallace’s dangerous and deliberate retaliation against Larson, not the brawl moments later.

“When we look at how that crash happened, in our minds (it was) a really dangerous act that we thought was intentional and put other competitors at risk,” O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

However, Wallace’s suspension for this Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway is a rare step: Wallace is the first Cup Series driver to be suspended for a track accident since Matt Kenseth was parked for two races in the 2015 for an accident in Martinsville.

23XI Racing, owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan, has not appealed the penalty and John Hunter Nemechek will replace Wallace this weekend.

“The 23XI is aligned with NASCAR on the suspension of a race released in Bubba and we understand the need for the series to take a clear stand on incidents that occurred at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,” the team said in a statement. “Bubba’s actions are not in line with the values ​​of our team and our partners. We spoke to Bubba and expressed our disapproval of how he handled the situation. Bubba has made great strides this season and this experience is an opportunity for him to learn further and grow as a competitor in NASCAR. “

Larson, who had been knocked out of the playoffs a week earlier, and Wallace, who hadn’t qualified to run for the Cup title, clashed on lap 94 in Las Vegas. Larson attempted a wide three pass and Kevin Harvick in the middle walked out of the pack. Larson slid down the runway towards Wallace, who didn’t turn off the gas to make room for Larson. Larson then pushed Wallace’s Toyota into the wall.

Bubba Wallace (in the red McDonald's car) and Kyle Larson collide in a NASCAR race in Las Vegas.
Bubba Wallace (in the red McDonald’s car) and Kyle Larson collide in a NASCAR race in Las Vegas.

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Wallace had driven 29 laps in a car he believed capable of winning and reacted by following Larson’s car to the forecourt, where he appeared to deliberately hook him in the rear corner in retaliation. This sent Larson on the path of Christopher Bell, a title contender who is part of Toyota’s camp with Wallace.

The incident ended Bell’s race and left him last in the eight-rider playoff standings.

Wallace, meanwhile, got out of his car and marched up the track towards Larson. Wallace was screaming before he even got to Larson and immediately started pushing the smaller driver.

Larson tried to get away from him and repeatedly raised his arms to block Wallace’s thrusts, but Wallace took multiple hits before a NASCAR security officer separated the two.

Bubba Wallace is pictured before the race where he collided with another driver and was suspended for a dangerous maneuver.
Bubba Wallace is pictured before the race where he collided with another driver and was suspended for a dangerous maneuver.

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Wallace apologized “for my actions” on Monday night in a post on social media he titled “Reflection”. He specifically apologized to NASCAR and its fans, but also Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota for “putting them in a playoff situation they don’t deserve.”

His post was not about destroying Larson – Wallace had claimed that his steering had broken when he hit the wall – nor did he specifically apologize to the champion.

“I compete with immense passion, and with passion sometimes comes frustration,” wrote Wallace. “After reflecting, I should have represented our partners and the team’s core values ​​better than I did by letting my frustrations follow me out of the car. You live and learn, and I intend to learn from this.

Wallace, NASCAR’s only top-flight black driver, has shown clear progress this season under close scrutiny. The crash was harshly criticized by some of his fellow drivers, who demanded safety improvements for NASCAR’s new Next Gen car following recent injuries.

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