NASCAR has suspended Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace for Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway because he wrecked Kyle Larson during last Sunday’s event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR announcement was made late Tuesday afternoon. The penalty does not include a fine or points deduction.
John Hunter Nemechek will replace Wallace this weekend at Homestead.
Sunday’s incident began when Larson slid up the track, pushing Wallace into the outside wall. Wallace bounced off the wall and moved down the track and hooked Larson’s car, which collected title contender Christopher Bell as it spun. Bell could not continue in the race and is in last place in the playoff standings entering Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
After both drivers climbed from their cars, Wallace walked to Larson, yelled at him and then shoved him several times. Wallace then walked toward the pits as a NASCAR official tried to redirect him to a waiting safety vehicle.
NASCAR chief operating officer Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the penalty is specific to “what took place on the race track. 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 data allowed NASCAR to view the incident from different angles. “We’re confident in the data we have and why we made it (the decision),” he said.
“We really had to react, and it’s an action we really don’t want to see going forward.”
Former series champion Joey Logano criticized Wallace’s on-track actions Tuesday, saying that he put Larson’s life at risk.
Wallace claimed after the race that he did not deliberately wreck Larson, but Larson disagreed.
“It is what it is,” Larson said. “Just aggression turned into frustration, and he retaliated.”
In a statement Tuesday night, 23XI Racing indicated it will not 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 statement read. “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.”
- Physical confrontation with a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.
- Member-to-Member confrontation(s) 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.
Section 4.4 E (portion) — Member actions that could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension, or termination:
- Actions by a NASCAR Member that NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.”
Wallace apologized for his actions Monday night. “I compete with intense passion, and with passion at times comes frustration,” he wrote. “Upon reflecting, I should have represented our partners and core team values better than I did by letting my frustrations follow me outside of the car. You live and learn, and I intend to learn from this. 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.”
Joey Logano won the race to secure a position in the Championship Four at Phoenix Raceway Nov. 6.