NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace is dealing with the consequences of his impulsive actions during Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
According to NBC Sports, he has been suspended for one race for intentionally causing Kyle Larson’s car to crash. Wallace will miss the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 23. He did not receive a fine or point deduction.
NASCAR chief operating officer Steve O’Donnell made the announcement on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, noting that the suspension was based on Wallace’s on-track actions and not related to the post-race shoving match between he and Larson.
“When we look at how that incident occurred, in our minds it was really a dangerous act. We thought that was intentional and put other competitors at risk. As we look at the sport and where we are, we thought that definitely crossed the line,’’ O’Donnell said.
This all started on lap 94 of Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, when Larson attempted to pass Wallace and Kevin Harvick while they were coming out of turn three. Harvick immediately backed off, while the other two drivers continued to trade paint, with an aggressive move from Larson’s No. 5 sending Wallace’s No. 45 into the wall. Bubba then slid back down the track and appeared to intentionally run into the back of the No. 5, causing him to wreck and collect playoff driver Christopher Bell into the crash.
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Though his initial response during an in-race interview didn’t show any regret, Bubba did take responsibility for his actions on Tuesday, posting a message on social media that read, “I want to apologize for my actions on Sunday following the on-track incident with Kyle Larson and the No. 5 car.” His post continued: “I want to apologize to NASCAR and the fans, along with Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Toyota for putting them in a situation in the Playoffs that they do not deserve.”
Wallace drives for 23XI Racing, which is owned by Michael Jordan and fellow driver Denny Hamlin. The organization released its own statement indicating that it wouldn’t appeal the suspension.
“23XI is aligned with NASCAR on the one-race suspension issued to Bubba and we understand the need for the series to take a clear stand on the incidents that took place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,” the team said in a statement. “Bubba’s actions are not in keeping with the values of our team and partners. We have spoken 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 further learn and grow as a competitor in NASCAR.”
While Bubba’s actions aren’t new or unheard of, his status as the only Black driver in a sport with a racist history puts him in a spotlight his competitors will never understand. Unfortunately, he will likely receive more criticism for this incident than other drivers usually get. His one saving grace is the fact that NASCAR season is almost over and things will die down until the sport starts back up in February.