Bubba Wallace received a one-race suspension from NASCAR on Tuesday, after an investigation determined he deliberately spun reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson during the NASCAR Cup Series race in Las Vegas on Sunday.
On Lap 94 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Wallace rammed his No. 45 Toyota into the rear quarter panel of Larson’s No. 5 Camaro as retaliation for being brushed into the wall when the two drivers were side by side.
After the two drivers exited their cars, Wallace then shoved Larson driver several times, in addition to a NASCAR official who was trying to separate them.
Larson had been eliminated from the Cup Series playoffs a week earlier. Wallace did not qualify to race for the Cup title. But the crash also caught a piece of Christopher Bell, a member of Wallace’s Toyota camp who had been competing to make the final four. All three drivers were unable to continue the race, and Bell dropped to last in the eight-driver playoff standings.
First On-Track Cup Suspension in 7 Years
Steve O’Donnell, the executive in charge of competition and racing operations, said the suspension was for Wallace’s dangerous actions on the racetrack, not the shoving match afterward.
“When we look at how that incident occurred, in our minds, (it was) really a dangerous act that we thought was intentional and put other competitors at risk,” O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Wallace is the first Cup Series driver suspended for an on-track incident since Matt Kenseth was forced to sit out two races in 2015. John Hunter Nemechek will sit behind the wheel of Wallace’s Toyota in this Sunday’s race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Wallace issued the following statement on Monday: “I want to apologize for my actions on Sunday following the on-track incident with Kyle Larson and the No. 5 car. I compete with immense passion, and with passion at times comes frustration.”
Wallace – the only Black driver at the top level of NASCAR – said his actions did not reflect 23XI Racing or any of his partners.
“You live and learn, and I intend to learn from this,” his statement said.
His statement did not specifically address causing Larson to crash, however. (Wallace claimed his steering broke when he hit the wall.)
Joey Logano, winner of Sunday’s race and the first driver locked into the championship-deciding finale, said Wallace’s “retaliation is not OK.”
“If he spun (Larson) into the infield, maybe it’s a little better,” Logano said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “But right-rear hooking someone in the dogleg is not OK. I don’t think anyone realizes how bad that could have been. That could have been the end of Kyle Larson’s career. That to me was what was on the line. Or, his life.”
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