Bubba Wallace intentionally crashed Kyle Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in retaliation; NASCAR comments after the driver has been suspended
On Sunday, the NASCAR playoffs opened the first race in the Round of 8 via Las Vegas Motor Speedway. However, a series of incidents between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson stole the show.
Here from NASCAR below.
Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace were in an on-track battle for 5th place. Larson crowded Wallace off turn four following a slide job. No contact was made but with little room, Wallace was forced into the outside wall.
Wallace bounced off the outside wall. He turn turned left, chased Larson across the track and stayed in the throttle until tagging Larson in the right rear.
Initially, Wallace attempted to say that his steering was broken after impact with the wall. However, that was likely just an attempt to avoid a penalty. He issued an apology the day after the incident.
It was clear retaliation. NASCAR saw it that way as well and on Tuesday the sanction suspended Bubba Wallace for this weekend’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
After that incident, Wallace also walked over and pushed Larson, several times. However, the physical altercation isn’t what brought the penalty despite that being a violation as well.
NASCAR comments after Bubba Wallace is suspended
“Our actions are really specific to what took place on the race track,” NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell stated via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“When we look at how that action occurred, really a dangerous act. We thought that was intentional and put other competitors at risk.”
“When we look at the sport and where we are today, where we want to draw that line going forward, we thought that definitely crossed the line.”
Wallace indicated that the steering broke after the initial impact with the wall. NASCAR took a look at the car as well as the in-car data after the incident.
“We’re confident in the decision we made and why we made it.”
“We’ve got a lot of data available to us. We looked at that data and reviewed the incident from a bunch of different angles. We believe it was a heat of the moment action that took place.”
“It’s a dangerous sport. Drivers are out there and there’s a lot of emotion, everyone’s racing their guts out. It’s never been better, in terms of that.”
“But, in this case, we just felt it crossed a line and we really had to react. It’s an action that we don’t want to see, going forward.”
“Fans and people like to compare, what happened in the past. For us, this was a reaction based on what took place Sunday and what we don’t want to see, going forward. We want to draw that line and be as clear as we can for our competitors of where we stand.”
It’s not uncommon for drivers to retaliate, in fact there’s a long history of it. However, doing it on a 1.5-mile track is rare.
“It impacted other drivers as well. When we look at this incident, you’re not only dangering one but there’s a lot of cars out there at a high rate of speed, it’s on an intermediate track.”
NASCAR reacts to Wallace shoving Larson after the incident
It’s not uncommon for a crew chief to get suspended for four races, such as if a car loses a wheel during the race. However, driver suspensions are far less common.
“It’s been very rare, if ever, that we suspend drivers,” O’Donnell added.
“We don’t take that action, lightly. It’s a driver driven sport. That’s an action we’ve rarely moved forward with.”
“There’s comparisons to what we’ve done in the past. But, I’ve always said we need to ratchet things up when we see that there’s a line that’s crossed.”
“Going forward, we don’t expect to see this. It’s a rare instance where you ever see this on an intermediate track, at speed. Going forward, we’re about going hard, bumping. But, when it’s intentional, at speed and endangering others, we gotta take action.”
Wallace committed multiple violations of the NASCAR rule book. However, the penalty was a result of just one, the on-track retaliation from inside the car. He wasn’t suspended for shoving Larson outside the car.
“It’s certainly not something we condone when you look at all the actions that took place. But, our focus was really what took place on the track.”
O’Donnell concluded, “We don’t want to see drivers fighting but we understand emotions get high. We don’t encourage that. We’ll have conversations about what took place outside the race car, one on one.”
NASCAR Rule 4.4.C
This is one of the rules noted in the penalty report:
4.4.C: “Member actions that could result in a loss of 25-50 driver points and Team Owner Points and $50,000-$100,000 fine. Violations may also result in a Race suspension(s), indefinite suspension or termination:”
– “Physical confrontation with a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.”
– “Member-to-Member confrontations with physical violence and other violent manifestations such as significant threat(s) and/or abuse and/or endangerment.”
– “Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Race or championship.”
– “Intentionally wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result.”
– “Any actions deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of Competitors, Officials, spectators or others.”