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Bubba Wallace suspends a race for deliberately screwing up Kyle Larson

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With Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

NASCAR suspended Bubba Wallace for the Cup race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday for deliberately ruining Kyle Larson last weekend, making Wallace the fourth driver to be suspended for an incident at the track in 11 years.

There was little doubt that NASCAR would discipline Wallace after the Larson incident while he was battling in the top five at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. The only question was whether NASCAR would suspend Wallace.

Bubba Wallace suspends a race for incident with Kyle Larson

Quick Thoughts with Bob Pockrass: Reaction to Bubba Wallace’s one-race suspension for the incident with Kyle Larson.

NASCAR has a history of not wanting to suspend drivers. They know that some fans save up to attend a race all year, and they want those fans to be able to see their favorite drivers.

The Wallace incident, however, had five different areas that could be considered a violation of NASCAR rules:

— Intentionally smashing another driver on the track, especially in a high-speed area.

— The destruction of Kyle Larson, a driver whose team is still in the owners’ championship. The crash also took Christopher Bell, who is still competing for the drivers’ championship.

— Walking on the hot road from his car to Larson instead of walking to the ambulance.

— The act of physically pushing Larson several times.

— Pushing the hand of a security guard trying to guide Wallace to the ambulance.

Bubba Wallace chases after Kyle Larson in hot trade

Bubba Wallace chases after Kyle Larson in hot trade

Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace struggle on the track after being involved in an accident at Turn 4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

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In its penalty report, NASCAR cited a rule that states a suspension is warranted under five factors: physical confrontations with NASCAR officials, physical violence with another competitor, attempting to manipulate a race or championship, intentionally destroying another vehicle, and any action that poses a dangerous risk. action for the safety of opponents.

NASCAR said the suspension was the result of the event on the track with Larson, not the playoff results or any subsequent action.

“Looking at how this incident happened in our minds, it’s a really dangerous act that we think was intentional and put other competitors at risk,” NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM Radio. “Looking at the sport and where we are today and where we want to draw that line forward, we thought this was definitely crossing the line, and that’s what we focused on when we made this call.”

Wallace issued an apology for his actions on Monday, and he chose his words carefully so as not to admit that he had probably deliberately ruined Larson.

“I compete with tremendous passion, and with passion comes disappointment from time to time,” he said in his statement. “When I thought about it, I should have represented our partners and core team values ​​better than I could by letting my disappointments follow me outside the car.

“You live and learn, and I intend to learn from it.”

Bubba Wallace on what happened on Sunday

Bubba Wallace on what happened on Sunday

Bubba Wallace discusses what happened in the Kyle Larson case and his reaction to it.

The team announced on Monday that it has accepted the NASCAR suspension and has appointed Homestead driver John Hunter Nemechek.

“The 23XI aligns with NASCAR on the one-race suspension given to Bubba, and we understand that the series needs to take a clear stance on the events taking place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,” the team said in a statement. “Bubba’s actions are not aligned with the values ​​of our team and partners.

“We spoke to Bubba and expressed our disapproval of how he handled the situation. Bubba has made impressive strides this season and this experience is an opportunity for him to learn more and grow as a competitor in NASCAR.”

Compared to Wallace’s case, here’s how the other driver was suspended for action on the road:

— In 2019, Johnny Sauter was suspended from a race in the truck series after ruining Austin Hill under yellows in Iowa. Sauter turned Hill and slammed him into the driver’s door.

How to compare the Wallace incident: Sauter intentionally crashed into another car, but this one had a few differences. Sauter made his move under yellow (when drivers were supposed to slow down and wasn’t expected to slam) and slammed Hill into the driver’s door (but not at such a high speed and didn’t put him down inside the wall).

– In 2015, Matt Kenseth was suspended from two races for ruining Joey Logano at Martinsville. Kenseth was a few laps behind after the crash and let Logano overtake him and then threw him against the wall. While Logano was still in contention for the Cup title, Kenseth was not.

How the Wallace incident compares: The accident involving intentionally hitting another car in green flag conditions, finishing that driver’s race, and playoff contenders is comparable. Differences: Wallace wasn’t a few laps behind and Larson wasn’t leading; They were fighting for fifth place.

— In 2011, Kyle Busch was suspended for the Xfinity and Cup races in Texas after carefully spinning Ron Hornaday in the truck race in the first event of the weekend. Busch crashed into Hornaday’s car twice and threw him into the wall. Hornaday was in contention for the truck title at the time.

How the Wallace incident compares: This was deliberately crashing another car into a wall, involving a championship contender and with similar safety concerns. The difference: Busch was a Cup driver competing in the truck series (trucks didn’t have playoffs back then and Cup drivers could only race in the series towards the end of the season), so he was a Cup driver who impressed the truck championship. . This event also occurred under yellow.

Kyle Larson thinks Bubba Wallace has reason to be upset

Kyle Larson thinks Bubba Wallace has reason to be upset

Kyle Larson admits that Bubba Wallace had reasons to be angry with him after Sunday’s incident.

Here are some high-profile retaliation incidents that didn’t result in suspension, and here’s Wallace’s case:

– Earlier this season, William Byron carefully turned Denny Hamlin in Texas. NASCAR awarded Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000; On appeal, the points penalty was revoked, but the fine increased to $100,000.

How the Wallace incident compares: The impact on the playoffs is comparable, as this incident ruined Hamlin’s opportunity to win in Texas. The differences are plentiful, as Byron obviously didn’t look intentional and was made under yellow without causing significant damage to Hamlin’s car.

— Also in 2022, Noah Gragson wrecked Sage Karam in the Xfinity Series race at Road America, causing an accident with several cars. Gragson was awarded 30 points and fined $35,000.

How does the Wallace incident compare: This was also intentionally hitting another car and other drivers were involved. At high speeds, the Gragson thing wasn’t in an oval where a car would hit the wall hard. There was also no significant playoff impact.

– One lap behind in 2012, Jeff Gordon smashed Clint Bowyer in the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix. There was a big fight between the two teams. Gordon was awarded 25 points and a $100,000 fine.

How the Wallace thing compares: This one deliberately crashed into another car under the green and involved a driver in contention to mathematically win the title. The Gordon thing ended Bowyer’s and Matt Kenseth’s day. The difference was that it didn’t come at such a high speed and was on a shorter, one-mile track.

– In 2010, Carl Edwards wrecked Brad Keselowski in Atlanta and sent Keselowski’s car into the air. Edwards parked for the remainder of the race and was paroled.

How to compare the Wallace incident: If you want a horrific incident to compare to Wallace’s, this will probably be it because Keselowski’s car went overturned. There was much debate at the time whether previous damage to Keselowski’s vehicle had helped lift off, but it was still a nerve-wracking moment. Later in the year, Edwards again screwed Keselowski on his way to win an Xfinity race at Gateway and was anchored 60 points and fined $25,000.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He’s spent decades covering motorsport, including his last 30 Daytona 500s, where he served on ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine, and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @oxtailand sign up for FOX Sports NASCAR Bulletin with Bob Pockrass.


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